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Officer kills grizzly in hotel hallway

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

ANCHORAGE - A bear well known to oil field workers is dead after wandering into a hotel in the North Slope outpost of Deadhorse.

The 700-pound male grizzly entered the Prudhoe Bay Hotel through a door Monday evening, climbed a flight of stairs and looked for food in hotel rooms. North Slope Borough Officer Don Grimes shot the bear twice after it began walking down the narrow hallway toward him.

Grimes had been trying to shoo the animal, known as Toby, toward an exit when it darted into a hotel room, then reversed course, said hotel manager Joree Lawson.

"It looked like he was going to charge," Lawson said. "Toby was never aggressive, but I felt it could have gotten ugly."

A man apparently took a picture from the stairwell nearest the bear, possibly frightening the animal further, said state biologist Dick Shideler.

Toby was the seventh Deadhorse bear in two years killed after breaking into buildings in search of food. Five bears were killed last summer and two have been killed this year.

"Once they start this break-in stuff you can't let them continue that from a safety standpoint," said Shideler, who monitors oil-field bears for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The 10-year-old bear with silvery shoulder patches was orphaned at age 1 when its mother was struck by a truck.

News of Toby's death saddened Deadhorse regulars on Tuesday, said Les Dunbar, who runs the Prudhoe Bay Post Office and pins up photographs of celebrity bears.

"He was fairly non-aggressive, and he was habituated to people," said Becky Kelleyhouse, a wildlife technician working on the state's Prudhoe Bay Grizzly Project. "So people had a lot of pictures of him."



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