White bear gets a break

Panel makes it illegal to shoot the rare mammal

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2002

The state Board of Game made an emergency finding today protecting white-colored black bears from hunting in the Juneau area until the panel considers a permanent regulation in November.

The bear-hunting season opens Sept. 1 and lasts through June 30.

The board met by teleconference in an emergency session to hear a request from Juneau photographer Pat Costello that white-colored bears, such as one he saw in Juneau last week, be exempt from being hunted.

"It was the whitest bear I'd ever seen," Costello told The Associated Press. "Just beautiful."

Beautiful enough to keep around for a while, Costello said. On Thursday, Costello filed a petition with the state Board of Game to protect the bear.

"A bear like this deserves to be around for people to see," Costello said. "I want to make sure of that. It shouldn't end up on someone's wall."

The board's unanimous decision today wouldn't affect hunting of other black bears.

According to the board's findings today, the white-colored bear is of high interest to hunters, wildlife viewers and the tourism industry, and recent publicity has raised awareness

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