Officials today were investigating the death of a black bear killed by an arrow in the Churchill Trailer Park in Lemon Creek.
The female bear was about 3 years old, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist Neil Barten. The arrow didn't have a razor insert that can cause an immediate fatal injury, so the bear likely wandered around before it died, he said. He estimated the bear weighed about 220 pounds.
"It was shot by an arrow from a perch above," he said.
Michele Nelson and her mother Geraldine saw the dead bear in a yard across the street from their home shortly after 7 this morning and called police.
"I'm all bummed out. It wasn't picking on anybody," Michele Nelson said. "I'm surprised someone went and did that."
Sgt. Steve Bear, a fish and wildlife protection officer with the Alaska State Troopers, asked anyone with information about the incident to call troopers.
"It's hard to say exactly what we're looking at," he said. "Due to the cause of death, I doubt it was taken in defense of life or property."
Someone who shoots an animal in defense of life or property needs to report the incident and so far, no one has done that, he said. Depending on the circumstances, charges of wanton waste or taking a bear out of season could be filed, he said. Both are class A misdemeanors punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or a year in jail.
Bear season starts Sept. 1, but residential areas are not open to hunting in Juneau, he said.
"We've been getting calls from residents in the area. People are getting frustrated by bear problems. But it's not a problem that's going to go away immediately. It's not a quick solution," Bear said.
Pat Costello, a member of the city's Urban Bear Committee who has been tracking bear activity in Lemon Creek, said the bear that died was spotted getting into garbage last night. He took a photo of someone in the neighborhood spraying the animal with a fire extinguisher, he said.
With ready access to garbage and fish-filled streams, bear activity in the area has picked up in recent weeks. Fish and Game staffers trapped a young bear at the trailer park Tuesday and moved it out of town. The trap was left out last night but was empty this morning, Barten said.
Barten skinned the dead bear to check its wound and took it to be incinerated.
Juneau police have increased patrols in Lemon Creek in response to bear activity and reports that children were chasing bears. Capt. Tom Porter urged people to call police or Fish and Game if they are having problems with an animal.
"Don't take matters in your own hands unless it is a direct safety issue. Give us the opportunity to do something without killing a bear," he said.
The city's bear committee is scheduled to meet at 5 tonight at the conference room in city hall.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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