A female black bear fatally shot by a Tee Harbor area resident early Saturday had its chances at survival.
It was the first bear reported shot in Juneau since a police officer killed a bear on July 16, 2003. Juneau Police Capt. Tom Porter said the bear killed Saturday was shot 35 to 40 feet from the door of a home in the 17000 block of Point Stephens Road.
The bear reportedly had broken into the house and gotten into the refrigerator and trash, Porter said. It wasn't the first time.
"(The shooter) reported he was attacked by a couple of bears," Porter said. The other bear turned out to be the dead bear's cub.
The cub was on top of its mother when state biologist Neil Barten arrived at the scene, he said.
"It's very sad," said Barten, area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
He had trapped the bear and its two cubs about five weeks ago in the Thunder Mountain area.
"You see the bonding between the mama and the cubs," he said.
He didn't blame the resident for killing the bear, though. Barten said he had tried to trap it again and had hoped it could provide scientific insight into the lives of Juneau bears.
After trapping the bear in September, Barten equipped it with a global positioning system collar and relocated it to Echo Cove with its cubs. Barten hoped it would stay in the wilderness before hibernating for the winter, he explained.
After about a week and a half, it returned to residential Juneau, taking only two or three days to come back to the Montana Creek area, Barten said.
One of its cubs was killed Oct. 15 by a vehicle on Steelhead Street in the Mendenhall Valley, he said. It was one of three bears he knows of killed by traffic in the area this year.
With the collared bear breaking into the Point Stephens Road home, Barten unsuccessfully tried to trap it again last week. He said the collar recording its movements was scheduled to fall off next October. He was hoping to see if the bear, which he judged to be 14 or 15 years old, would return to natural foraging after emerging next spring.
Overall, Juneau this year has had fewer problems with bears raiding garbage, in part because it was such a good season for berries and fish, Barten said.
Maria Gladziszewski, special projects officer for the city, has been working to reduce problems bears in Juneau. A program offering bear-proof trash containers, coupled with city garbage and litter regulations and good foraging, have worked to reduce the amount of negative bear activity, she said.
Porter said police have no action pending against the man who shot the bear and don't see any reason to investigate.
Barten said he hopes the dead bear's surviving cub can live as a wild bear, in spite of what it learned from its mother this summer. He plans to relocate it this week beyond Taku Inlet, where he hopes it can hibernate and come out next spring foraging naturally.
Tony Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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