Thief takes off with unusual grizzly bear pelt

Posted: Thursday, June 29, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The thief, or thieves as it may be, could have cleaned Al Barrette out.

There were hundreds of tanned and untanned hides piled or hanging in his makeshift shop, Fairbanks Fur Tannery, off Marika Road.

Wolverines. Wolves. Black and grizzly bears. Beaver. Marten. Arctic fox.

''There's 150 lynx over there,'' said Barrette, nodding to a pile of lynx pelts stacked in a corner. ''I probably have at least 150 black bear hides in here right now.''

Barrette walked into his ''office'' -- a desk in the corner -- and was surrounded by hanging, tanned wolf pelts, as well as two piles of tanned bear hides.

''All this stuff is finished, waiting to be picked up,'' he said, sitting down at the desk. ''They could've cleaned me out for thousands of dollars.''

But the only thing missing when Barrette showed up at work one morning two weeks ago was a lone grizzly bear hide that had been placed atop one of the piles.

''I know it just didn't get misplaced,'' Barrette said. ''Somebody just wanted a grizzly bear hide.''

Barrette wants it back. He's offering $400 for the return of the hide and took out an ad in the newspaper announcing the reward.

The hide belonged to a customer who shot the bear on the North Slope this year. And while it was an average-size hide, measuring 61 inches, it wasn't your typical grizzly bear.

''It was really light, almost blonde,'' Barrette said. ''It's one of those animals you can never replace.''

Barrette filed a report with the Fairbanks Police Department, but with no clues to go on he doesn't hold out much hope an investigation will turn up anything. More likely, Barrette is counting on the $400 reward to perhaps loosen the lips of a friend of the thief.

''It'd be easy for me to identify it,'' he said. ''It's not a typical grizzly bear.''

Anyone with information on the missing bear hide can call Barrette at (907) 452-6047.

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