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Two trash-seeking brown bear cubs killed by Fish and Game in the Eagle River area

A brown bear sow and her three cubs visited the Birchwood Camp and killed 22 chickens and one goat, May 1, 2018. Wildlife biologists killed the sow and later two of the cubs. (Photo by Relena Myers / Birchwood Camp)

State wildlife biologists killed two brown bear cubs in Eagle River last week after the animals raided trash in the area, a habit they likely learned from their mother, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

They're the fourth and fifth bears shot and killed by wildlife officials in the Municipality of Anchorage this year due to public safety concerns, said Ken Marsh, a Fish and Game spokesman.

Fish and Game believes the cubs belonged to the brown bear sow that wildlife biologists killed earlier this month. The sow and its three cubs had a history of digging in trash cans, Marsh said. The bears eventually showed up at a year-round retreat in Chugiak in early May, charging a family's dog and killing 22 chickens and a goat. The sow was shot. The cubs ran into the trees.

In recent weeks, people spotted at least two of the cubs in the Eagle River area, Marsh said. They reported seeing the cubs getting into trash that was left outside in the area around Loveland Circle, he said.

"Mom taught them how to get into garbage as a good source of food," Marsh said. "That's how they were raised."

Biologists trapped two of the cubs last Thursday on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, close to the Loveland Circle neighborhood, Marsh said.

The bears posed a public safety threat, Marsh said. Brown bears tend to be particularly aggressive about defending a food source, including garbage.

"They can get real aggressive," Marsh said. "They can actually charge."

It's unclear where the third brown bear cub is, Marsh said. Fish and Game got a report earlier this month that a homeowner in Chugiak shot at a cub, but no one ever found the carcass. Some people in Eagle River reported seeing three brown bear cubs in the area earlier this month, while others only saw two, he said.

Fish and Game reminds people to properly store their garbage to keep bears away.

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