Biologists are warning people in South Anchorage of a grizzly bear hidden in the woods just north of Rabbit Creek Road Wednesday, defending a moose kill.
Dave Battle, an assistant area biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the bear had retreated into a densely wooded area by the afternoon with the carcass of a moose calf. He urged residents near the intersection of Manytell Avenue and Elmore Road to remain cautious for at least 24 hours. The problem isn't confined to that one spot, though, he said.
"The caution that I have for people is this is happening all over town," Battle said. "Moose calves are being born so cows are very aggressively defending their calves. Bears are taking down the calves and then aggressively defending their carcass."
Calving season spans from mid-May to mid-June. Battle said the department doesn't consolidate the number of bear reports it receives until winter, but he said the count doesn't seem especially high this year.
On Tuesday morning, he and another local biologist responded to a call from a homeowner who heard a bear kill a moose around midnight. Battle said he could see the bear from the road in the residential neighborhood, estimating its weight as between 200 and 300 pounds. He yelled and clapped his hands, trying to get the bear to abandon its meal.
"If we can scare it off a carcass, sometime we can go in and snatch the carcass," Battle said. "If we can remove the carcass we will, then it will have nothing to defend."
The bear didn't give in. It managed to drag the calf about 30 yards into the woods and about 30 yards away from the closest home. Battle said it appeared the bear had almost cleaned the carcass, lessening the threat. For now signs are posted asking people to stay away.
Reach Tegan Hanlon at email@example.com or 257-4589.
By TEGAN HANLON