Orphan Bear Escapes from the Wildlife Conservation Center
PORTAGE - A 300-pound brown bear cub is on the loose after escaping from the Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage last Tuesday. The bear, called Shaggy, is the female half of two orphaned cubs that were brought to the center over a year ago from Kodiak.
Mike Miller, the center’s executive director, said workers were doing maintenance on the cubs' pen last Tuesday and had turned off the main electric wire that runs along their fence.
According to Miller, something startled Shaggy and, with the help of a snowberm, she was able to scale the 12-foot fence.
Miller said he was alerted to the escape almost immediately and grabbed a dart gun. He and several workers jumped on snowmachines to try and follow the two-year-old tracks. They spotted Shaggy several times in the trees of Portage Valley, but were unable to get close enough to shoot.
That’s when Fish and Game got involved. Workers spent several days in the air searching for Shaggy by both helicopter and plane, but couldn’t find her. Fish and Game said they aren’t particularly worried Shaggy is a threat to people and it’s possible she’ll return on her own.
Workers at the Conservation Center are certain that she will.
“As soon as she gets hungry enough and has had her fun,” said Miller.
The cubs are supposed to be moved to a new home in Sweden at the end of May and Miller said he is still optimistic that he’ll be able to send both.
In the meantime Fish and Game is reminding people that bears all over the Anchorage area are starting to wake up. There have been several reports of black bears in Bicentennial Park.
“It’s the season to be “bear aware,” said Fish and Game’s Jessy Coltrane. "Put up your bird feeders and make sure you don’t have trash that’s unsecured in your yard, the bears are just starting to wake up.”