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Another wounded grizzly roaming Anchorage Hillside

Craig Medred
Photo courtesy of Chris Cook

A second injured grizzly bear is roaming the suburbs of Alaska's largest city. This one was shot early Sunday morning inside the garage of a homeowner in the Paradise Valley subdivision above Goldenview Drive on South Anchorage's Hillside. It is unclear what attracted it to the garage.

The bear shot in late October in the DeArmoun Road area to the north had been raiding a chicken coop.  That bear has not been seen since the shooting but has sparked a lively debate about chicken coops -- a rather recent phenomenon -- in the city.

There were the no chicken coops anywhere in the vicinity of the latest bear shooting, but there were bunny hutches about a half-block away. Tracks in the snow showed the bear clearly circled and investigated the homes of the obviously frightened bunnies, but it did not try to get into the coops.

Instead, it wandered back into the woods, moved along the street and then made a beeline for a garage near where the subdivision abuts some undeveloped property near the edge of Chugach State Park. There it smashed in a door to gain entry to the garage. It is unclear what it wanted, but it had gotten inside and grabbed some garbage during a previous foray. The homeowner reported hearing the bear back in his garage at 3 a.m. He grabbed his shotgun, went to investigate, and put one slug in it as it was running out.

"Bears move fast,'' he said.

Anchorage Police officers arrived a short time after the bear departed and tracked the wounded animal. It was bleeding heavily when it left the garage, but the bleeding began to slow within a couple hundred yards, and police gave up the chase.

State wildlife officials took up the hunt Sunday morning and followed the bear further, but also abandoned the hunt as the bear moved farther and farther away from subdivisions. From where they abandoned the chase, the bear continued back into a very sparsely populated neighborhood near the Chugach Park boundary high above the upscale Potter Heights subdivision.

Eventually, the animal's trail dropped down into a creek bottom littered with large spruce trees blown down in windstorms over the course of the past several winters. Experienced guides say that is the sort of place a wounded bear is likely to find a hollow in which to curl up and rest until it heals or it dies, but homeowners in the Paradise Valley, Moutainside Estates, Potter Heights and surrounding areas were being warned to be on the alert.

Wounded bears are potentially dangerous, especially immediately after a shooting, but over the longer term there is no evidence they pose anymore danger to people than other grizzly bears. A medium-size animal, possibly weighing 400 pounds or more, this one seemed to be doing its best mainly to get away from people after the shooting.