Bruin carcass found in Gastineau Channel

Posted: Thursday, September 14, 2000

A fisherman trying to fill the freezer pulled in a bear Wednesday near the Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery.

"Apparently, a fisherman snagged a bear carcass in the channel, and pulled it onto shore," said Juneau police officer Chris Burke.

Police received the report about 7:30 p.m. "It appears the bear had been shot," Burke said.

Lt. Gary Folger of the Alaska State Troopers' Fish and Wildlife Division responded, took photos of the black bear and its wound. The carcass then was returned to its cradle of waves.

"It's unknown when it was shot, but I would estimate it has been in the water three to four days. It seems it was shot in the shoulder area, apparently with a large-caliber weapon," Folger said.

He estimated the bear to be 2 to 3 years old. There have been no reports of a bear being shot in the last few days. Shooting bears within city limits is not recommended, Folger said, and aspects of this shooting are illegal.

"It would be considered waste because the hide was not salvaged. Meat salvage only applies in the spring, but by law the hide and skull have to be salvaged," Folger said.

He assumes this was "a problem bear" someone decided should be consigned to swim with the fishes.

"If the action was warranted at the time, it's considered defense of life or property. But the individual still has to notify us and salvage the hide and skull. We need to look at each case to see if it was warranted," Folger said.

Folger, a trooper with 19 years experience, said bears are like people some are good and some are bad.

"More often than not, if you leave them alone, they're fairly harmless. But there's always a bad apple or two out there," Folger said.

For the most part, Juneau's bears are doing what bears preparing for months of hibernation do at this time of year: "They eat," Folger said.

Now that it's been shampooed by Gastineau Channel, is it illegal to retrieve the carcass for a skeletal mount or a rug?

"If people wanted to salvage the hide, they would have to fill out applications put in a request through Fish and Game that it would be used in educational ways," Burke said.

Anyone who has information about the shooting should call Folger at 465-4007.

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