Authorities investigate missing bear claws in collision death

Posted: Monday, September 03, 2007

KENAI, Alaska - A grizzly bear killed by a vehicle on the Sterling Highway had its claws illegally harvested, federal wildlife authorities said.

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The bear was killed Tuesday east of Sterling near Watson Lake.

The skull, hide and carcass were left behind but the bear's front paws were removed, said Duston Beyer, an officer with the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Removal of the claws was illegal, Beyer said.

"All animals killed in collisions are property of the state," Beyer said.

Taking parts from animals killed in collisions violates state law on unlawful possession or transportation of game, he said.

The bear was killed near Mile 72. A caller reported the incident at about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Wildlife authorities said it was unclear if the person who struck the animal was the same one who removed the claws. Officers have collected evidence from the scene, including broken signal glass and tire treads marks.

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