Two bears died in defense of life and property shootings overnight. That brings the total to seven so far this year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Both shootings happened in Eagle River.

The first happened between 11:00 p.m. and midnight Monday at a home near Old Eagle River Road and Baranoff Avenue. Fish and Game spokesperson Ken Marsh said there were reportedly three black bears on the owner’s property, but, he didn’t know the circumstances of the shooting which killed one.

The second happened early Tuesday morning at a home off Hyland Road. Marsh said in this case, a brown bear was attacking a chicken coop.

Marsh said seven is not an unusually high number. The incidents happened in Eagle River, Anchorage and Portage.

“This is the time of year when bears come down from the high country looking for food,” he said. “There’s more food down low right now. They’re going to be looking for fish. Salmon are going to be running soon. They’re looking for newborn moose calves and trash, any kind of human-type food too.”

There are ways to protect yourself and the bears as they pass through the area.

“Secure your trash and any kind of human-provided foods.,” said Marsh. “Keep the barbecue grease trap clean, pets foods, bring those in, anything that might draw a bear. Putting electric fencing around livestock, like a chicken coop, is also a good deterrent.”

You can’t just shoot a bear because it is on your property. To qualify as a defense of life and property shooting, the bear has to be showing some kind of aggression, putting you or another in fear for their lives, or the bears have to be destroying property, like attacking livestock.

Even then, Marsh said shooting a bear is a last resort. Shouting or making noise may startle the bear and make it leave.

Two other bears have died in non-defense of life and property shootings. One was struck and killed on the Glenn Highway. Another was electrocuted when it climbed a power pole.

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