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Black bear, shot at least twice, found washed ashore near Juneau dock

Jerzy Shedlock
Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are looking for clues to who shot a black bear and apparently dumped its body in the waters near Juneau before it washed ashore Tuesday. Jitze Couperus / cc via flickr

Alaska Wildlife Troopers say a black bear carcass washed ashore near a Juneau dock on Tuesday. The bear reportedly died of a gunshot wound, but its valuable parts, such as its hide and skull, had not been salvaged. Instead, it was dumped with a piece of machinery tied around its body.

AJ Dock and Rock Dump workers first spotted the bear near the dock. Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist Ryan Scott said the carcass was located either next to the dock or had washed up on a nearby shore.

Troopers say the bear was shot and killed and later dumped in the area of the dock within the past 10 days. Scott said the 10-day timeframe and the location where the bear had been dumped are assumptions, though safe guesses.

Cruise ships depart from the dock, and the dump is an adjacent industrial area. The black bear’s carcass was visible to passing ships, Scott said.

The bruin was shot at least twice with an undetermined firearm, he said.

Now, troopers and Fish and Game are seeking information. The bear could have met its demise in a number of ways: the mystery shooter could have dumped the bear off a nearby dock or off the side of a boat. Either way, the wasteful shooter was trying to sink the animal, apparent by the axle tied around the bear’s body.

When Fish and Game picked up the carcass, it was bloated. Scott said he was surprised the bear drifted to shore because even with a bloated body, the black bear should not have been very buoyant, especially with a piece of machinery weighing it down.

Fish and Game and the troopers find the case peculiar. If the bear was killed in defense of life and property (DLP), the person responsible may have gotten lazy and chose to dump the animal rather than report the incident. Or, a hunter could have killed the bear during hunting season and failed to salvage its skull, claws and hide, opting instead to get rid of the beast by sinking it along the shore near Alaska’s capital.

In DLP shootings, the bear's skull and hide must be turned over to Fish and Game, removing any trophy value. “We don’t see things like this very often,” Scott said.

Juneau is within Fish and Game’s Game Management Unit (GMU) 1C, a strip of the Panhandle stretching nearly to Petersburg to the south and Haines to the north. The black bear hunt in GMU IC is a long one -- 10 months. There’s a two-bear bag limit, but no more than one kill can be a glacier bear, bluish-colored bears generally found in the Yakutat area and other parts of Southeast.

Hunters generally bag 80 to 90 black bears during the season, Scott said.

Troopers are asking anyone with information about the black bear incident to contact them at 907-465-4000. Anyone wishing to stay anonymous can call the Fish and Game safeguard hotline at 1-800-478-3377. The hotline pays for information on poachers.

Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com