'Better them than my little ones.' Neighbors react to bears' deaths
Two brown bears are dead after digging into Eagle River trash cans over the weekend.
The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game shot the young bears late Monday night behind a home in the EagleRidge neighborhood.
Fish and Game biologists, along with an Alaska Wildlife Trooper, killed both bears within a 45-minute time frame just after 11 p.m. Monday.
"[A] couple gunshots went off. I came out, asked them if they got one, and it was pretty late, so I went to bed, and I heard another gunshot," said Brandon Byers, who caught part of the scene on his home's surveillance cameras.
Byers lives just across the street with his three kids. The surveillance video on his house also caught the animals hanging around this weekend — focused on finding trash.
"They were going after the bear-proof, people that had the cans in the garage, you’d see them in the garages, sniffing the garages. They did tear up a lot of trash that was left in the street out across the street," Byers said.
The pair left their tracks in other areas, like in Dan Williamson’s back yard — which sits just above Eagle River.
"There’s a nice drainage right here, so there’s a thoroughfare for them, easy climbing to get into the sub," Williamson explained.
Williamson says he’s seen the bears three or four times in the last week. And before them, there were others.
While he now keeps his cans inside, Williamson says that wasn’t always the case.
"We didn’t the first fall, but some neighbors came by and said, ‘Hey, in the summer months, don’t put your trash out at night.’ So we started keeping it indoors when we first moved in," Williamson said.
That’s exactly what Fish and Game wants to see more of. Neighbors helping neighbors become more bear aware —to keep themselves and the animals safe.
"It absolutely is a sad day whenever we have to kill an animal in a situation like this where they’ve been habituated by people. So, what we have is a people problem-- and animals are paying the price," said Ken Marsh, a spokesperson for the Dept. of Fish and Game.
"We have stopped the problem temporarily, but the problem really isn’t the bears. The problem is the trash being left out. More bears will come in, now that these bears have been removed, and the cycle will start all over again. In the last two years we’ve killed at least three brown bears in these neighborhoods that have become habituated to trash," Marsh added.
"I figure better them than my little ones," said Byers, who says he's relieved Fish and Game did something about the bears.
"They did look pretty dangerous-- they didn’t have no problems standing up to the neighbors yelling at them and all that, one of them at least, was very comfortable around humans," Byers said.
While no one seems to be celebrating the loss of life, the bears’ death has triggered a conversation about protecting people-- by taking care of trash.
According to city code, trash should not be left outside until the day of pick up.
Marsh also recommends using bear-proof trash cans and says if bears can’t get into the garbage, they’ll likely move along-- posing less of a threat to people.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: