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Brown bear killed after threatening tied-up dog

Bruin caught in illegal snare found dead on riverbank

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2007

Bear activity across the Kenai Peninsula showed no signs of slowing this week.

On Saturday morning another bear was shot in defense of life and property (DLP), this one off Ten-Mar Avenue off of Deville Avenue in Sterling.

“It’s the second DLP of the year,” said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna.

The first DLP shooting this year took place last week when a brownie charged a lone man hunting for moose antlers in Ninilchik.

On Saturday the brown bear ?— which Selinger speculated was 3 to 4 years old — was shot by a homeowner who reported the bruin was about to attack his chained-up dog. Alaska State Troopers and Fish and Game personnel responded and found the bear dead, approximately 50 yards behind the residence.

“This was another case of someone being responsible, having to address a problem created by someone else being irresponsible,” he said.

Selinger said the homeowner had little to no attractants in his yard.

“There was no garbage left out, the grounds were clean and he said he brings in the dog dish every night, so it appears he was doing everything right,” he said.

Selinger said he believed this was the same bear that had been rummaging through garbage cans off of Moose Range Drive off of Robinson Loop last week; had been seen eating garbage out of the bed of a pick-up truck earlier that day; and appeared in a photo on the front page of the Clarion last Friday.

“It fits the same description,” he said.

Selinger determined the bruin also had been blasted with birdshot within a few days of its death.

“Shooting at a bear with a rubber bullet or shooting a warning shot over a bear’s head in a safe direction is one thing, but I can’t emphasize enough that the public should not haze bears with birdshot,” he said.

Beyond the fact that it is inhumane to intentionally injure an animal, Selinger said it also can bring about the opposite of the desired effect.

“Injuring a bear can ensure it can’t be a wild bear, able to gather wild food. Instead it could become more dependent on foraging on garbage or close to homes. So, if a bear is shot, it should be shot to kill,” he said.

This wasn’t the only bear killed as a result of human negligence this week.

Also Saturday, troopers with the Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement responded to a report of a bruin laying dead along the bank of the upper Kenai River.

Approximately half a mile upstream from the Russian River Ferry crossing, troopers found the carcass of an adult black bear, dead for at least two days, that had been caught in a trapper’s snare set for wolf or coyote. This area has been closed to trapping since March 31.

“Whoever set that snare was not a responsible trapper,” Selinger said.

The bear’s head and claws were removed by troopers to be turned over to Fish and Game. The case is under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call troopers at 262-4573 or (800) 478-3377.

A bruin, quite possibly one familiar to Fish and Game, also has been making appearances between the Valhalla Heights and Shaginoff subdivisions, and the Strawberry Road area of Kenai.

“It was first reported late last week in the Valhalla Heights-Shaginoff area. A brown bear with an injured front left leg had been seen,” he said.

Selinger said this could be the same brown bear that, as a 2-year-old cub, was orphaned with two siblings after their mother was shot on the Russian River in 2005. The three cubs were captured and tagged after the sow’s death. One was never heard from again, one was killed by Fish and Game in Sterling last year after an unknown person had shot the animal, shattering its leg bone, and left it for dead, and one periodically made appearances between the Russian River and Suzy’s cafe in Sterling.

The latter bear was seen favoring its front left leg. Selinger said it could be the same one that made a recent appearance on the outskirts of Kenai.

“For a young brown bear, travelling that distance would not be uncommon, but we can’t say for certain. Fish and Game personnel haven’t seen it yet, and while it has an ear tag, people may not have been looking for it, or it may have been hard to see due to hair around it,” he said.

Selinger said the bear’s visit in the Valhalla Heights-Shaginoff area was brief due to unsuccessful food foraging.

“An individual reported the bear had rolled a bear-resistant garbage container into the street and was jumping up and down on it, but never got into it,” he said.

Selinger said when the bear moved to the Strawberry Road area, he was unfortunately rewarded for his efforts.

“The same bear was spotted over on Strawberry (Road) on Wednesday morning. When we responded it was the same old story. Several houses in the area had garbage out and there were lots of attractants around,” he said.

Selinger said this would likely be enough to keep any bear in the neighborhood, but for a limping bear it goes doubly so.

“An injured or compromised bear will just stay there and eat garbage because it’s easier for it than foraging naturally” he said.

The Longmere Lake trio of bruins — a brown bear sow and her two cubs — made appearances again since May 11. Carol Burdick, who lives off of Edgington Road in Sterling, reported the bears outside her home on Sunday and Monday evening.

“We see them every year,” she said.

Burdick reported the sow was being protective of her young. She said that on Monday the sow stood up on her hind legs and was snorting and huffing to warn them to stay back.

Burdick added she was not sure what drew the bears to her residence, since she makes a concerted effort to minimize attractants around her home.

“Once the bears come out, the garbage goes into the garage,” she said.

Selinger said the incident sounded like another scenario of some suffering as a result of someone else’s behavior, since there have been reports of bears fitting the description of these three rummaging through garbage in the Longmere Lake area.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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