A longtime Alaskan says his dog probably saved his wife's life after a young grizzly bear charged her Sunday night by their home in the Eagle River canyon, near the nature center.
Michael Weiman, 64, scared the bear off with warning shots, then, when it returned, he shot and killed the bear, Anchorage police said.
Weiman said his wife, Marianne Hamilton, was walking their 10-year-old boxer, Mojabe, on an abandoned airstrip that's part of their property on Bear Ridge Circle. It's an area of big lots where homeowners are used to seeing a lot of wildlife, including moose and grizzly bears, he said. They had seen a bigger grizzly earlier in the day on Sunday.
That evening, they were enjoying the sunshine. Around 9 p.m., Hamilton went to walk the dog.
"The dog stopped and wheeled around. Marianne turns around, and here comes a bear," Weiman said.
It was on the airstrip, in the open. Its ears were back, and it was coming at her, he said. "She kept remarking about the eyes, the eyes. The eyes were big and coming," Weiman said.
He heard her screaming, grabbed his .44 pistol, ran outside and saw the boxer "intervene and cut the bear off." Hamilton ran behind a pickup truck. The dog chased the bear across the road.
The bear turned toward the dog, and Weiman fired three shots into the ground next to the bear, each one closer, as he tells the story.
"Over the hill it went," he said. But as soon as they all got inside, the bear was back.
"The words I said were 'Hell no,' and I grabbed my .30-30," Weiman said.
He fired. "Very swiftly it was done and I'm not sorry," he said.
He said he's lived in Alaska 41 years, been a hunter all his life, but never hunted bears. He said he's a nature lover. That bear, though, was acting dangerously. The grizzly was young and smallish, maybe 150 pounds, but its claws were 3-inches long and razor sharp.
He called 911 and Anchorage police officers came to his home and told him what he needed to do. He skinned the bear and will turn the hide in to the state Department of Fish and Game, which auctions the hides of bears killed in defense of life or property.
Residents of the area are used to seeing bears, most of which never cause a problem. Most people carry a gun or pepper spray when they are out walking in the spring and summer, Weiman said. But on Sunday, winds would have whipped spray into the user's eyes and the bear could have attacked, he said.
"People get so complacent and they think the bear is a little teddy bear. They aren't."
Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.