Juneau police said they found it necessary to kill a fifth black bear early this morning.
The bear, a small boar weighing about 150 pounds and 2 or 3 years old, was first reported about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Eagles Edge trailer court off Glacier Highway. Eagles Edge borders Alaway Avenue, the street where the police station is located.
The bear was trying to feed on garbage. Police frightened it out of the area, but it returned at 1:13 a.m. and aggressively broke down a wooden fence as it attempted again to get to garbage, said Capt. Thomas Porter Jr. of the Juneau Police Department.
"From the information I have received so far, garbage was his obvious intent," Porter said. "The concern of the officers was that people were starting to show up and watch; they were concerned for their safety."
Officers first used pepper spray to deter the bear. The irritant did not have any obvious effect in persuading the bear to retreat, Porter said. Officers then tried loud noise in the form of large firecrackers called seal bombs. Noise was also ineffective.
"The officers were out there for a pretty good while, and it was
obvious the bear wasn't showing any kind of reluctance about being close to human beings. So they shot him," Porter said.
He said citations for improper securing of garbage were being considered in the incident.
In another incident late Wednesday, a bear was reported chasing a man at Mendenhall Center, formerly Mendenhall Mall. A woman switched on her high beams and charged the bear with her car. She was able to distract the bear from its apparent pursuit of the man, and the bear then climbed a tree. It soon retreated into the woods.
"A woman felt a bear was chasing a man at 8:42 p.m.," Porter said. "When officers responded, the man said he didn't think the bear was chasing him, but happened to be running in the direction of some people."
At first, the police could not locate the bear. Then, about 9:12, they spotted it near a Dumpster. They secured a Dumpster that "seemed to be full of food," and coated it with pepper spray, Porter said. "The bear never returned."
Bears should be going into winter hibernation very soon, said Neil Barten, area management biologist for Fish and Game. In fact, they should be there "yesterday," Barten joked.
"A combination of the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder and snow falling" urges bears into their winter dens, Barten said.
"Their food supply is frozen or covered up and not accessible any more. In Juneau, however, bears have a food supply that lasts longer than out in the wild. If they have a 'honey hole' whether it is a fishing stream or a garbage can it's more likely they'll stay awake and feed longer," he said.
Probably some of the local population of black bears are ready to "head off into the hills now," but others will likely linger, Barten said this morning.
Bears previously were shot by police this season on July 27, Sept. 2, Sept. 7, and Sept. 20. The carcass of a sixth bear, shot by an unknown person, washed up at Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery.