A brown bear feeds on garbage not secured in a bear-resistant receptable earlier this month in Sterling. Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said attractants -- such as unsecured garbage -- have led to several defense of life or property shootings this year.
Photo by Mark O'Neil, courtesy o
This was a bad week for brown bear on the Kenai Peninsula as the number of bruins killed by humans jumped from four to 11 animals.
“We had three DLPs on Thursday (June 14) alone,” said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, referring to bears killed in defense of life or property.
The first of the three shootings took place off of Feuding Lane in Sterling, when an adult brown bear sow and her two yearling cubs attempted to feed on chickens in a pen without electric fencing.
“He was extremely reluctant to shoot them,” Selinger said of the owner of the chickens.
The bears returned several times over a two day period, also threatened the homeowner’s dog and were not dissuaded by more than 20 warning shots from a shotgun. After he had been charged several times, the owner shot and killed one of the cubs, Selinger said.
The second DLP shooting June 14 took place in Seward. Selinger said details of this incident were still coming in, but from the initial report, “a brown bear, believed to be a 3-year-old male, was shot after attacking a dog.”
The third shooting June 14 took place at a black bear hunter’s bait station in the Irish Hills area between Soldotna and Kasilof. A brown bear sow followed her two, or possibly three, yearling cubs to the station and became aggressive once noticing the hunter in a tree stand.
“When the sow saw him in the tree, she charged up after him” said Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with Fish and Game.
The following day, June 15, brought two more DLP shootings, the first of which occurred when the sow, whose cub was killed the day before, returned to Feuding Lane and again charged the homeowner.
The second shooting June 15 took place off Panoramic Lane when a 3- to 4-year-old brown bear attempted to get into a chicken coop that, like the home on Feuding Lane, was not surrounding by electric fencing.
“I can’t emphasize enough how a few simple measures, such as having up electric fence, not leaving out dog food and having garbage in bear-resistant receptacles, could have prevented most of these incidents,” Selinger said.
One of the few exception was found in the Russian River area Monday. The female brown bear darted last Wednesday and then radio-collared and dyed with fluorescent identification marks ? to better identify it as a problem bear was found dead, not far from where biologists recovered the animal after its chemical immobilization.
“When we performed the field necropsy, we found that the tranquilizer dart had penetrated the bear’s liver,” Selinger said.
While not a DLP shooting, the death of this bear will be counted as a human-caused mortality. Selinger said unfortunate accidents such as this occasionally occur during ground sedations, and while the loss of the bear was a setback, it would not dissuade Fish and Game from moving forward with the marking program in the future.
The last bear killed this week was a huge brown boar shot in Kasilof on Tuesday, not far from the intersection of Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Sterling Highway.
“This was a big bear, estimated to be about 9 years old and weighing roughly 600-650 pounds, which is a good size for a spring bear,” Lewis said.
According to the report he received, Lewis said the homeowners were drying numerous fish on a fish rack when the bear came out of the woods, potentially in pursuit of an easy meal. Frightened, the homeowner went for a .270 rifle and dropped the bear with one shot.
There also were several close calls with bears over the past week that didn’t end in the death of a bruin. Lewis said that on Thursday morning he received a call of a brown bear with two cubs attempting to get at chickens not protected by electric fence off of Gaswell Road.
“The homeowner’s dog a small poodle ran out after it, and a neighbor reported seeing a bear run through the yard with the dog in its mouth not long afterward,” he said.
Selinger said he also received a call of a brown bear sow with two cubs feeding on unsecured dog food off of Echo Lake Road on Thursday morning, but he could not confirm if it was the same trio of bears.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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