Black bear killed after Eagle River garage break-in
The latest black bear killed in the Anchorage area was put down Monday by state biologists, after reports that the animal was trying to enter an area garage.
Ken Marsh, with the state Department of Fish and Game, said Wednesday that reports concerning the bear first came in from the Prudhoe Bay Loop area Friday.
"The bear was breaking into a garage and actually knocked out one of the big panels on a garage door -- it knocked out one of the panels trying to get inside," Marsh said.
Fish and Game staff set a live trap for the bear, which was seen as they did so. The bear wasn’t caught and euthanized until Monday, however.
There weren’t any signs that improperly stored garbage was a factor in the bear’s death, as officials have suggested after killing three black bears in the Eagleridge subdivision last month.
“It was a factor in that there was garbage stored in the garage,” Marsh said. “There’s nothing wrong with that – it was a secure building – but unfortunately this bear found a way to break in.”
Marsh said the animal killed Sunday exhibited the same “red flag” behavior that led to the killing of black bears that had broken into parked area cars in recent weeks, as well as a black bear sow and its three cubs after entering a tent at the Centennial Park Campground off the Glenn Highway.
Another bear that died Monday, a male brown bear, was struck by a vehicle at about 9 a.m. off the Glenn Highway near the Hiland Road exit.
Biologists are still monitoring traps near the site where two people, including 44-year-old hiker Michael Soltis and a person searching for him, were mauled by a brown bear sow on June 20; Soltis died at the scene and the searcher was wounded. Earlier this month, Fish and Game killed a nearby sow with two cubs that was thought to have committed the maulings, but sample testing later showed it wasn’t the bear responsible.
So far this year in the Anchorage area, Marsh said, Fish and Game along with law enforcement officers have made 23 “agency kills” of bears – including 10 brown bears and 13 black bears. An additional four black bears have been killed by residents in defense of life or property.
That total of 27 bears is comparable to the 31 bears killed last year in and near Anchorage between April and October, including 17 agency kills and 14 in defense of life or property. Months still remain this year, however, until the area’s bears hibernate for the winter.
Marsh said one change from last year to this year is the breakdown of bear kills. Just three of the bears killed in 2017, including one agency kill and two resident kills, were brown bears; the other 28 were black bears.
There wasn’t any overall reason that came to mind for the greater proportion of brown bears killed this year.
“All you can do is speculate,” he said.
Scott Gross contributed information to this story.
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