HAINES (AP) -- Two yearling brown bear cubs were shot and killed in separate incidents in a Chilkoot River neighborhood last week.
Wildlife Enforcement Trooper Ike Lorentz told the Chilkat Valley News the shootings were justified under state law that allows the taking of wildlife in defense of life or property.
''Nobody did anything wrong in particular. It's just the way those cubs grew up. They were comfortable having people around them,'' said area wildlife conservation biologist Neil Barten.
A sow and three cubs for several weeks had chased dogs, climbed on porches and chewed the sides of homes in the neighborhood. Three brown bear sows, each with three cubs, were regularly seen along the river last year, drawing a steady traffic of commercial tours and residents.
''There's people piling out of buses and cars walking up to bears and getting between sows and cubs,'' Barten said. ''It just isn't good.''
Eric Daigneault shot the first bear at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. He had let his pet black Labrador out the house and a cub chased the dog.
Daigneault grabbed a shotgun loaded with bird shot, intending only to scare off the four bears. The sow began walking away, but the cubs ran back at Daigneault. Five feet from his front door and 10 feet from the lead cub, Daigneault shot into the dirt.
The trio stopped, turned and ran but the lead cub collapsed. Daigneault said his shot into the ground apparently ricocheted into the bear's chest.
''I thought, 'There's no way I killed a bear with number seven skeet shot.' That's the last thing I wanted to do was kill a bear,'' said Daigneault, who has lived in the neighborhood three years.
Less than two hours later, Scott Hamilton shot another of the cubs after they climbed on his generator shed and came between his house and the family's car, which carried his wife and child.
Trooper Lorentz said the woman blew the car horn several times but the bear circled back toward Hamilton. He fired a warning shot, then shot the cub at short range.
Lorentz said trash wasn't a factor in either of the shootings.
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.