Bear wounded in Dyea hazing incident found, killed
A brown bear wounded in a hazing incident near a Dyea campground on July 16 was found and killed by National Park Service (NPS) personnel on Saturday, according to a statement from NPS.
Prior to the hazing, the bear had approached campers preparing food, ignoring attempts to scare it off. A Skagway police officer, intending to use a non-lethal round in his shotgun, loaded a lethal round into his weapon and fired on the bear, injuring its leg. The bear escaped and Skagway officers and park officials following it lost track of the bear when it crossed the nearby Taiya River.
NPS officials sent out a statement following the hazing, stating it was possible the bear had succumbed to the river or its injuries, but as no body had been found, park rangers and Skagway police increased their presence in the area.
Dyea residents reported seeing a limping bear on Friday. After additional reports came in, an NPS ranger found the bear and put it down Saturday.
“Following the hazing event, the Skagway Interagency Bear Management Group, made up of representatives from the [Skagway Police Department], the NPS, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), evaluated the situation and determined to dispatch the bear if it still demonstrated evidence of suffering,” NPS spokesman Ben Hayes said in a statement. “Upon finding the bear on July 30, the NPS ranger observed that the bear was suffering from a “dead” hind leg, unable to bear any weight whatsoever, and appeared to lack a visible fear in the presence of groups of people.”
After processing the bear as a Defense of Life or Property take, according to Hayes, it was discovered the bear had a broken femur and a dislocated hip.
Hayes said the kill was “in accordance with the Skagway Interagency Bear Management Group determination.” The hide and skull will be turned over to ADFG as required by state law.
Hayes included a reminder to residents in Dyea that both black and brown bears live in the area, explaining ways to more safely coexist with the wild animals:
“Bears are attracted to ocean accessible valleys seeking a variety of natural food sources from berries and grubs to fish. Bears are naturally conditioned to find food in nature, but are also opportunistic and won’t pass up an easy high-fat meal. Bears and people can share a common space and both remain safe when we prevent opportunities for bears to find cars, camps, homes, yards, and backpacks attractive.”
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