Fish and Game kills 2 brown bears in Eagle River

Monday, July 2, 2018 - 13:07

A week-long trash binge is over for a pair of Eagle River brown bears who were shot and killed by state wildlife officials Monday night.

According to Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh, Fish and Game biologists and an Alaska wildlife trooper arrived in the Eagle Ridge subdivision Monday night in search of the bears, which had been getting into trash for more than a week.

“I think they encountered them fairly quickly,” Marsh said Monday.

Marsh said the bears were spotted wandering through the neighborhood in search of their favorite meal: trash.

“The bears were very bold, they just popped up on the street and walked behind the wildlife trooper truck,” Marsh said.

The bears were corralled to a location where they were away from homes and shot, Marsh said. The first was killed at around 11 p.m., with the second taken about 45 minutes later. Marsh said biologists salvaged the animals, taking the skulls and hides as well as genetic samples for further testing.

Biologists Monday said they planned to kill the two sub-adult brown bears after receiving numerous reports of the animals getting into trash cans in the densely populated, wooded neighborhoods that line the Eagle River Valley. Once the animals learned to associate the area with easy calories, Marsh said their fate was sealed.

“It’s not a bear problem, it’s a people problem,” Marsh said.

[Biologists say trash bears in Eagle River will be killed — but people are the problem]

He said biologists spotted at least 30 trash cans left alongside the road Monday night in advance of Tuesday morning pick-up. It’s against municipal code to leave trash out overnight, but many people continue to ignore the rules.

The state has killed five bears in the Chugiak-Eagle River area this summer, and each was killed after they learned to associate trash with food. If bad habits continue, Marsh said it’s likely more bears will die.

“The message here to folks is this is a cycle that repeats itself and it’s not going to stop until people take action,” he said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call (907) 257-4274.

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