Four bears were killed in the Kenai-Soldotna area this weekend, including a brown bear that had been visiting a neighborhood at North Dogwood and Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai.
Two brown bears and one black bear that had become threats to life and property were shot and killed, according to Larry Lewis, Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife technician, and one brown bear was struck and killed by a motorist on the Sterling Highway just south of Soldotna.
"The brown bear killed in a defense of life and property shooting Monday morning in North Kenai was one that had been in the Dogwood Road neighborhood," said Lewis, who had moved that sow and her two cubs late last year from the same neighborhood.
"She had a radio collar, ear tag and tattoos inside her mouth," he said, when asked how the bear was identified.
Brown bears had been visiting the Kenai neighborhood recently after someone began dumping large amounts of fish carcasses, which were attracting the bears.
One resident posted homemade signs warning of the danger posed by the presence of the bears and asked for help in identifying the person dumping the fish remains.
A second brown bear shot and killed in defense of life and property Friday night was in Sterling off Moose Range Avenue along Robinson Loop.
The black bear was shot and killed Friday afternoon after it, too, became a threat.
"There was a licensed hunter in the area who took the black bear on his bag limit," Lewis said.
The fourth bear killed, another brown bear, was hit by a car near Mile 103 of the Sterling Highway.
"The car was totaled," Lewis said.
He said the Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation "is the lead agency to deal with bear management, and we need cooperation from the public."
"Conventional wisdom is that we have a large, stable bear population here on the Kenai Peninsula, but right now, we're 1 1/2 females away from not having a brown bear hunting season this year," he said.
A "half female" is any bear younger than full adult.
The department sets a target percentage of brown bears that can be harvested from the estimated 277 on the peninsula, and any interaction involving humans that lessens that number impacts whether there will be a hunting season, Lewis said.
Brown bear hunting is permitted as a registration season beginning Oct. 15. The season runs through Oct. 31, but if the target percentage is reached sooner, the season is shut down by emergency order, Lewis said.
He said people can help wildlife management on the peninsula by not leaving anything out that would attract animals -- namely bears in summer and moose in winter. Attractants include garbage, pet food, bird seed, livestock and free-roaming pets.
"We will start taking a hard line on people negligently leaving things out that attract bears," he said. "If bears become site habituated, then they become human habituated and then they become a public safety problem."
Lewis suggested people take garbage to solid waste facilities often, and if they must store garbage, they should do so in their home, garage or shed. If they keep livestock, electric fencing can be used to protect the livestock and keep bears out.
He also said people should not clean fish in their yards, but rather at the river where the fish are caught.
"People don't know what it is to have a bear problem at their home until they have one. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't happen," Lewis said.
He also said people wanting additional information may stop by Fish and Game's Soldotna office at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road where pamphlets and flyers are readily available.
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