Juneau changes policy on killing bears

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Juneau police officers will no longer kill bears unless they pose an immediate threat to people.

City Manager Dave Palmer announced the new policy Monday, less than a week after police killed a black bear that had attacked dogs and growled at officers when they tried to scare it away from a residential neighborhood in the middle of the night.

The next day they discovered its cub in a nearby tree.

A state Fish and Game worker euthanized the cub because it was too small to survive on its own, and he could not find a zoo to take it.

''We started the summer by having to kill two bears. That's not a trend I want to keep up for the summer,'' Palmer said.

Under the new city policy, the police department will send one officer to respond to a bear call. The officer will direct people and pets inside until the bear leaves the area, and will issue a citation if the city garbage ordinance has been violated.

The city will no longer use seal bombs and other noisemakers to chase bears. If a bear needs to be destroyed, a shift commander must approve the action.

Palmer said the new procedures may inconvenience people if police need to close streets or restrict access to areas, but the changes should de-escalate interactions between bears and people.

Juneau Police Chief Mel Personett said the new policy should result in fewer bears killed.

''In past years, we've worked with people not only to protect life, but property. We've reached the point in the community where bears are more important than some of the property is,'' he said.

A city ordinance tightening penalties for leaving trash where bears can get to it went into effect last week. It's intended to reduce the number of bears in residential neighborhoods.

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