Bear shot after attacking dog

Dog survives head punctures by bear

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2002

A Thane resident killed a black bear known for causing problems in the neighborhood Saturday evening after it attacked his dog.

Bill Corbus, who lives near the end of Thane Road, said he was reading at dusk on Saturday when he heard his dogs barking. He went outside and then heard a "terrible squeal."

"I saw the bear had a hold of the dog by the head," he said.

Corbus, an experienced hunter and recently retired president of Alaska Electric Light and Power, grabbed a shotgun and shot at the bear with buckshot.

"By this time, the bear was carrying the dog away. I probably hit it, but I'm not sure. It seemed like he hesitated," Corbus said. "He was headed up the hill carrying the dog and I went back in the house and got a hunting rifle and proceeded up the driveway. ... I waited and sure enough the bear appeared carrying the dog. I shot a couple of times and hit the bear."

With the bear dead, Corbus called the police who arrived to take photos. He was surprised to discover his dog was still alive and made a trip to the veterinarian. Bruiser, a 60- to 70-pound mixed-breed dog, survived puncture wounds to the head and is recovering at home, Corbus said.

"He's hanging in there," he said. "He's not his usual vibrant self, but he's OK."

Neil Barten, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the shooting was justified.

'It's a judgment call, but if the bear is threatening life or property - and a dog is property - you can kill a bear," he said. The circumstances might be different if a dog "runs out and starts harassing the bear," he added.

The bear has been causing problems in the Thane area for the past three weeks. It walked into a resident's kitchen and bathroom a week ago, ripped the door off a secured garbage shed and injured another neighborhood dog.

"Regretful relief is the feeling out here," Thane resident Larri Spengler said this morning.

Clara Sperl, who has lived in Thane for 55 years, said the bear injured her dog, Ginger, a Labrador retriever mix, a couple of weeks ago. The dog survived and is doing well, but since then, neighborhood residents have tried to keep their children inside. Sperl said she and her husband haven't gone walking for fear of running into the animal.

"It made me feel like I was a prisoner in my house," she said. "When I heard that bear was dead, I had a good night's sleep."

Barten said the large male bear was about 12 years old.

"It had big paws and a big head. It was skinny, which is common this fall," he said. "We've had a poor berry crop and bears have been hungry."

Following requirements, Corbus brought the hide into Fish and Game this morning. The meat wasn't salvageable, but the hide will be tanned and used for educational purposes, Barten said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at

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