4-year-old shoots herself with bear gun left on counter, Anchorage police say

A 4-year-old girl visiting family at an Eagle River residence shot herself with a gun left loaded on the kitchen counter as bear protection, police say.

The girl was expected to survive her injuries, the Anchorage Police Department said.

Police said they responded to the 30900 block of Prudhoe Bay Ave. just after 10:15 a.m. Wednesday. The girl was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound.

The girl doesn’t live at the house, police said. The loaded handgun had intentionally been left out “due to the area’s bear population.”

A man and four other children were in the home when the shooting occurred, police said. The questions of where the adult was at the time of the shooting and who owns the gun are still under investigation, according to police spokesman MJ Thim. No charges have been filed.

Bear sightings are common in the heavily wooded neighborhood, which overlooks the Eagle River less than two miles from the Eagle River Nature Center. Center operations manager Laura Kruger said sightings of black and brown bears are reported “every few days” in summer.

Last year, Fish and Game biologists shot two black bears in the neighborhood that were breaking into people’s cars in search of food.

Police recommend keeping guns unloaded and locked in a storage case, Thim said.

Madeline McGee

Madeline McGee is a general assignment reporter for the Daily News.

Matt Tunseth

Matt Tunseth is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and former editor of the Alaska Star.