State and federal law enforcement officers killed a brown bear Sunday, May 26 on the mainland southeast of Wrangell. They believe it was the same bear that was threatening some campers in the area.
The U.S. Forest Service first received a report of an aggressive bear at some camp sites north of Berg Bay early that morning.
Petersburg-based Alaska wildlife trooper Cody Litster said he and another trooper were joined by two law enforcement officers with the Forest Service and the four went to investigate the report.
“We figured out that there’s two camps and one camp had bear problems and was hazing the bear off pretty much all night,” Litster said. “And about 11 o’clock or so that camp reported the bear went away. And three o’clock the next morning at the other camp, one of the campers was sleeping in a tarp sort of shelter and felt like he was getting pulled out of his tarp and he kind of thought it was some of the other campers playing a joke on him until he looked up and saw a bear at the foot of his sleeping bag.”
The campers were on a trip with Alaska Crossings, a program out of Wrangell that brings youth from all over Alaska to hone outdoorsman skills and build emotional resiliency. The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium manages the program. The bear reportedly pawed at a field guide but no children had to confront it. None of the campers were injured in their encounters with the bear and they were able to leave. They used flares to scare off the animal but were camping without firearms.
When the law enforcement officers investigated, Litster said they found an aggressive bear in the area.
“While we investigating the scene, a bear showed up on site and had no fear of us and seemed to be pretty habituated to humans,” he said. “And to alleviate any other bear-human interactions that might end adversely we put the bear down.”
The dead bear is a young male and the officers are nearly certain it is the one that was threatening the campers. Litster said the campers were doing well to keep their food contained and not available.
Aggressive bears have also been reported already this spring near Juneau and Sitka. State biologists also killed an aggressive brown bear in Anchorage in early May.
June Leffler at KSTK in Wrangell contributed to this report.