Trash-eating bears in Eagle River killed by Fish and Game

A weeklong trash binge is over for a pair of Eagle River brown bears that were shot and killed by Alaska wildlife officials Monday night.

According to Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh, biologists and a wildlife trooper arrived in the Eagle Ridge subdivision Monday night in search of the bears, which had been getting into trash for more than a week.

"I think they encountered them fairly quickly," Marsh said Monday.

Marsh said the bears were spotted wandering through the neighborhood in search of their favorite meal: trash.

"The bears were very bold; they just popped up on the street and walked behind the wildlife trooper truck," Marsh said.

The bears were corralled in a location where they were away from homes and then were shot, Marsh said. The first was killed around 11 p.m., with the second taken about 45 minutes later. Marsh said biologists salvaged the animals, taking the skulls and hides as well as genetic samples for testing.

Biologists on Monday said they planned to kill the two sub-adult brown bears after receiving numerous reports of them getting into trash cans in the densely populated, wooded neighborhoods that line the Eagle River Valley. Once the animals learned to associate the area with easy calories, Marsh said, their fate was sealed.


"It's not a bear problem, it's a people problem," Marsh said.

[Biologists say trash bears in Eagle River will be killed — but people are the problem]

He said biologists spotted at least 30 trash cans left alongside the road Monday night in advance of Tuesday morning pickup. It's against municipal code to leave trash out overnight, but many people continue to ignore the rules.

The state has killed five bears in the Chugiak-Eagle River area this summer, and each was killed after it learned to associate trash with food. If bad habits continue, Marsh said, it's likely more bears will die.

"The message here to folks is this is a cycle that repeats itself and it's not going to stop until people take action," he said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com or call (907) 257-4274.