Grizzlies fight near Chena River dam

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Doug Edwards normally spends his time counting salmon, not grizzly bears. On Thursday, Edwards got a chance to do both.

A technician for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who counts salmon passing through the Moose Creek Dam on the Chena River, Edwards spotted four grizzly bears settle a dispute over a moose carcass only a couple hundred yards from the dam.

As a sow and two cubs ripped chunks of meat from the moose, a boar that Edwards estimated to be at least 8 feet tall showed up and challenged the sow for the carcass. What happened next was something right out of The Discovery Channel, he said.

The two bears stood up on their hind legs and exchanged blows like a pair of boxers.

''They were going at it,'' he said. ''She hit him a couple of times and he took a swipe at her. Then he started running and she chased him about halfway to the woods and ran back to the cubs.''

The boar disappeared into the brush while the sow and two cubs, thought to be born just this year, continued feeding on the carcass.

''It was amazing to watch them take a hind leg and wiggle it around and rip chunks of meat off,'' he said.

The dam's spillway is commonly used by joggers, mountain bikers, dog walkers and horse riders.

A handful of tourists on hand caught the scene, too, some of whom wanted to get closer to take pictures. Edwards advised them against doing so.

Officials at the Chena Flood Control Project issued a warning Thursday alerting people that four bears were seen feeding on the moose not far from the road leading to the river park in Chena Lakes Recreation Area.

''We're just making sure people are aware the animals are out there,'' said project manager John Schakke.

''As long as those bears stay where they're at we'll be all right. They've got plenty to eat up there so I don't think they're going to be exploring too much.''

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