Traffic was bumper to bruin on at least two occasions near Cooper Landing this week.
On Saturday, during an annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Live Ride in which roughly 200 motorcyclists drove from Anchorage to Soldotna, one unlucky biker almost ran into a black bear head-on.
According to Alaska State Troopers, nine motorcycles were traveling together southbound on the Sterling Highway near Mile 49.5, near Summit Lake, when the bruin attempted to cross the road from east to west. Witnesses said the bear stopped in the middle of the road and the motorcycles attempted to avoid a collision by turning sharply and breaking abruptly.
Timothy Lebling, 39, of Seward, was heading northbound in a gray 2002 Dodge pickup truck when he saw the bear emerge from the woods into his lane. The bear stopped and Lebling, in an attempt to avoid hitting it, swerved and swiped a 2007 Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by Michael Sweet, 47, of Anchorage.
Sweet was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered nonlife-threatening injuries to his head, neck, arms and legs, according to troopers. Two other Anchorage-based bikers Randall Hames, 56, and Gilbert Wilson, age 48, also were injured. They suffered minor injuries and were treated on scene by medics, but all three motorcycles involved sustained major damage.
The bear made it across the road unscathed and ran into the woods.
Another bruin hit by a vehicle Monday was not as fortunate.
According to Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, a brown bear was hit roughly half a mile from the Sportsmen's Landing at the Russian River.
"It was not recovered," he said.
Since the bruin was not found dead it will not be included in the ever-growing number of human-caused mortalities of bears on the Kenai Peninsula, but a brown bear shot in defense of life and property Saturday will be added to the tally, which is up to 15 for the year.
Lewis said the shooing occurred at a residence at the end of Sport Lake Road when a man took action to save the life of his dog which had been cornered by the young female brown bear.
"He tried yelling and waving his arms to run the bear off and when it didn't respond he shot it," he said.
Seward also was the site of at least two bear-human encounters this week.
On Tuesday, Kevin R. Hauze, 32, of Seward, was cited by Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement troopers for shooting a black bear in violation of defense of life and property rules. He was found to have garbage and pet food stored on his porch, which attracted the bear.
Lewis also responded to a bear call in Seward early Wednesday morning that resulted in a 2 1/2-year-old female brown bear being sedated and relocated to another area.
"She had been caught in a snare in a man's front yard after he set it for a neighbor's dog," he said.
Lewis and other Fish and Game personnel sedated the bear, tagged and tattooed it for identification and radio-collared it to track her whereabouts before releasing her in a remote area of the Chugach National Forest.
Despite where the bear was caught, Lewis said he did not think it was a bear with a history of eating garbage.
"It defecated while we were working it up and there was no indication it had been eating garbage or anything unnatural. The man just lived near a salmon stream and I think the bear was just following it and ended up in his yard," he said.
Since trapping season does not open on the peninsula until November, Lewis said it was illegal for the man to set the snare, and was poor form, too.
"Static traps are nonselective. I think it would have been far better for him to find the neighbor who owned the dog and work it out with them," he said.
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