Bear shot after chicken coop raid still on the loose

mtheriault@adn.comOctober 25, 2012 

— A grizzly bear shot and wounded by a chicken coop-defending Hillside homeowner earlier this week was still on the loose Thursday night.

But despite being injured, the bear doesn't appear to "pose any more of a safety threat than any other brown bear," according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jessy Coltrane.

At least two other bear-in-chicken-coop incidents have occurred on the Hillside since Wednesday morning.

A bear broke into a different coop in the Rabbit Creek Road area Wednesday night and Thursday morning. It escaped both times.

It may be the injured bear but there's no way to know for sure, Coltrane said.

Biologists believe the grizzly's wounds are mild and it may only have been grazed. It has been skittish around people.

Still, the prospect of a wounded grizzly roaming relatively populated areas of the Hillside has alarmed residents.

On Wednesday night, Coltrane and Dave Battle, another Fish and Game wildlife biologist, were driving around looking for the wounded grizzly when they heard from police that a bear had been sighted at a house in the Clarks Road area, near Rabbit Creek Road, around 10:30 p.m.

When they arrived at the house minutes later, the animal was already gone. The homeowner described it as a grizzly.

It's not clear whether the bear is the same one shot by a coop-defending homeowner on Beverly Drive, off Birch Road between Huffman and DeArmoun roads, said Coltrane.

"My guess is it was probably the same bear," she said. "But there could easily be two."

The same chicken coop on Clarks Road was visited by a bear again around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, according to the Anchorage Police Department.

Whether there's one injured-but-persistent bear or multiple bears at work on the Hillside, the sudden fall chicken harvest isn't surprising, said Coltrane.

Fish and Game officials spend the early summer responding to bear incidents involving chickens and garbage, both well-known attractants.

Usually there's a lull in August and September as bears trade garbage runs for plentiful fish and berries.

But in October, as hibernation nears, chickens again become plump, tasty and often defenseless targets.

To avoid overnight visits by predators, chickens need to be protected by electric fencing, Coltrane said. At least four strands of wiring are recommended.

The coops raided on Wednesday were not protected by adequate electric fencing, she said.

In the case of the Clarks Road coop, the electric fence was turned off.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.

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