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Brown bear with 2 cubs killed near Seward after raiding chicken coops

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: October 24, 2016
  • Published October 22, 2016

Residents of a subdivision just outside Seward have killed a sow brown bear and two cubs this week in two separate shootings on different properties.

Both times, the bears were raiding backyard chicken coops, Alaska State Troopers said.

One cub was shot Wednesday, and a sow and another cub were shot Friday night.

Another cub that was fired on on Friday may not be hurt and remains on the loose, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Scott Sands said Saturday morning. The cubs were born this year, so they're probably 6 to 8 months old.

"All it knows how to do is raid chicken coops," Sands said. "It will probably turn up there at some point."

Residents in the Questa Woods subdivision, where both bear shootings occurred, blamed the sow and her three cubs for damaging coops and leaving residents on edge with bold nightly raids. Neighbors tracked their progress by calling one another and posting updates on a Facebook group.

Sands investigated both shootings and found they qualified as "in defense of life and property" killings protected by state law. But he also said he cited several residents in the subdivision for leaving trash out last summer and this week — none of them the people who shot the bears. He said that this summer chickens were the big draw and few chicken owners had protected their coops with electric fences.

"When a sow with three cubs is harvested — we don't encourage that," he said. "But sometimes it can't be avoided."

Sands said it's not certain that the three bears shot by residents were the trio of bears spotted in their yards. But he said he suspects they were, based on the age of the cubs and the sow's habit of raiding chicken coops in that location.

A number of residents wanted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to kill the bears. The state had no plans to do that.

Numerous brown bears are in the area, authorities say.

Corinne Danzl and her husband, Keith, said they shot the first cub after it got in their coop and killed a chicken around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Sands said he didn't find any trash or other attractants — besides the chickens.

The second shooting on Friday happened in the same subdivision at David Hettick's property.

Hettick said the sow had chased him Monday but was distracted by his dog. On Friday, he shot her and the cub after they got into his chicken coop.

He described her as about 7 feet tall and said the cub weighed 200 pounds. Sands said the sow was fairly small and looked relatively young.

Hettick said the sow had chased someone else as they walked to a garbage can.

"Did not want to do it but she was going to get someone," he wrote in a message.

He shot the sow and one cub and killed them.

He shot at the other cub but there was no blood trail or other evidence it was hit or injured, Sands said.

He's asking anyone who sees the cub to call the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 907-262-9368 or the Seward Alaska Wildlife Troopers office at 907-224-3935.

Word of the sow and cub's killing spread fast Friday night.

"We can finally breathe easy!" Corinne Danzl wrote in an email.

Another neighbor, however, posted on a Seward wildlife Facebook group that a different trio of "aggressive" bears damaged her property last weekend and that residents should remain alert.

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