Black bear believed to have been the culprit in West Anchorage trash can raids has been killed, Fish and Game says

A black bear believed to be the same animal spotted rummaging through trash cans in Anchorage’s Turnagain neighborhood in recent days was killed Monday because it had become too comfortable around humans and had become dependent on garbage for food, a wildlife biologist said.

The bear was first reported roaming the neighborhood during the day on Thursday or Friday, walking down the middle of streets and knocking over trash cans to search for his next meal, said Anchorage area biologist Dave Battle with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Trash appeared to be the bear’s main source of food, Battle said.

Battle described the bear as a young male, maybe 3 or 4 years old.

“It was well along the ... progression that we see where a bear will start out, maybe it gets attracted to trash or bird seed and it’ll come in the middle of the night and then gradually expand its time of the day,” Battle said. “Eventually it stops caring whether humans are around or not.”

On Monday morning, the bear made its way to Earthquake Park and eventually attempted to climb the fence surrounding the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport runway, Battle said. The bear was killed by Fish and Game officials as it tried to climb the fence, he said.

“We’re sure we got the right bear, but even if it turned out to be another bear, we would have had to kill it at that point because he was running around in the parking lot of the UPS and then it tried to climb the fence,” Battle said.

There were not any reports of aggression from the bear, but Battle said officials determined after observing the animal throughout the weekend that it had become brazen to a point that it could become dangerous.


While the Turnagain neighborhood is generally not a hot spot for bears, they are spotted all over the city from time to time, and Battle said they can easily filter into town.

“It’s just a hop, skip and a jump and there’s basically a greenbelt all the way up into those neighborhoods,” he said. “There’s plenty of bear habitat leading right up into those neighborhoods and even through all those neighborhoods.”

The Department of Fish and Game kills nuisance bears each year. The department aims to address bear management through public education before the situation escalates to the point where an animal has to be killed, Battle said. Last year in Anchorage officials killed 16 bears and another nine were killed by people defending their life or property.

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The department is working with the Alaska State Troopers to cite homeowners who may have left unsecured trash out or kept out bird feeders that drew the bear to the area, Battle said. People who routinely leave out garbage or have bird feeders during bear season can be fined $320, he said.

“That’s the key issue here,” Battle said. “There was a lot of available trash in those neighborhoods and that’s what needs to be cleaned up or they’re just going to have more bears over there. This is not the kind of thing where we kill the bear just so they can leave their trash out. We had to solve an immediate problem, but that’s just a Band-Aid.”

People reported a bear in the neighborhood last year, also and Battle said he suspects it was the same bear.

Battle said the best way to keep bears away from neighborhoods is by using bear-resistant trash cans or storing trash indoors and making sure garbage is not left out on any day other than collection day. Bird feeders should also be taken down in months when bears are active because the high-calorie seed attracts bears.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at