Fourth bear killed

Police officers say black bear refused to leave Gruening Park

Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2000

A fourth Juneau bear was shot by police shortly after midnight Wednesday.

The Juneau Police Department received the initial complaint about a black bear in Gruening Park about 11:20 p.m.

Residents had thrown firecrackers and a seal bomb an explosive with the power of three to five firecrackers at the bear and were unable to convince it to leave the park, a housing development near Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School. The bear did walk back into the woods.

A second complaint came in to police at 11:47 p.m. When officers arrived, the bear was still there. They used a seal bomb, but the bear seemed unperturbed. Eventually the bear walked into the woods, only to sit down a short distance inside the brush.

As officers stood vigil, the bear attempted to enter the park again by skirting their position. They made more noise and the bear retreated into the brush.

Officers detonated another seal bomb close to the bear. The bear, which weighed 250 to 300 pounds, again tried to flank the officers and enter the park. The bear was then shot and killed.

The state Department of Fish and Game removed the bear.

"We encourage people to come here to see our spectacular wildlife. Do we want to have the reputation of killing that wildlife?" asked Fish and Game biologist Polly Hessing.

Hessing said police often seem to respond to pressure from crowds that gather around bears and feel they must protect the crowd.

Police tried repeatedly to run this bear off, but such bears are not really wild. They are food-conditioned, and associate people with food rewards. Even if this particular bruin had never found food at Gruening Park, it was habituated to finding rewards somewhere else this summer, Hessing said.

"A bungee on a garbage can is not good enough" to deter bears from coming close to residences, she said.

Bears previously were shot by police on July 27, Sept. 2 and Sept. 7.

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