2nd bear killed after it rummaged through trash in West Anchorage, official says

Two black bears have been killed in as many days after they were seen digging through trash on a street in Anchorage’s Turnagain neighborhood, a wildlife biologist said Tuesday.

West Anchorage is an unusual place for bear activity, but four bears in total have been reported there recently, said Anchorage area biologist Dave Battle with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

A bear was first reported late last week getting into garbage on Forest Park Drive. Wildlife biologists observed the bear over the weekend and decided to kill it Monday morning because it had become too accustomed to humans and was reliant on garbage as its main source of food, Battle said.

On Monday night, Battle said, a different bear began roaming Forest Park Drive and was reported dipping into several trash cans that had been left out in advance of collection day Tuesday. More reports of the bear rustling through garbage poured in Tuesday morning, and Battle said biologists noticed the bear had an injured leg.

Battle estimates the male bear was about 3 to 4 years old.

Officials killed the bear Tuesday morning near the intersection of Forest Park Drive and Northern Lights Boulevard, he said. They decided that was the best course of action because of the bear’s injuries combined with the fact that it was headed toward busy portions of the city.

[Previously: Bear activity closes portion of Turnagain Arm Trail as hibernation comes to an end]


On Monday afternoon, a female black bear was relocated after it wandered into a busy section of Spenard, Battle said. The bear had been reported at DeLong Lake and near Connor’s Bog Park over the weekend, he said. It wandered into town Monday and was reported in an area between Arctic Boulevard and Minnesota Drive, Battle said.

That bear wasn’t digging through trash or acting aggressive, and Battle said it likely just wandered too far into town. Wildlife officials decided to dart the bear with a tranquilizer and relocate it far from town.

Battle said it’s unusual for the Department of Fish and Game to relocate bears, but in this case the bear was not showing any concerning behaviors.

“So with that one, we decided to try to give it a break and give it a chance to survive,” he said.

Each year the Department of Fish and Game has to kill nuisance bears. Often, the bears are attracted to garbage or bird seed in town because they are an easy food source, Battle said. The animals can become reliant on the food and also become so accustomed to people that they present a danger. Last year in Anchorage, officials killed 16 bears and another nine were killed by people defending their life or property.

[‘He took a small bite and then ... a second bite’: Surveyor survives bear mauling near Glennallen]

Battle said there has been an abundance of unsecured trash and some bird feeders in the Turnagain neighborhood recently, but he’s not sure if there are other things drawing bears to the western part of town. It’s unusual to have so many reports of bears in West Anchorage, he said.

“You don’t know if there was some sort of natural food crops that really came in that drew a bunch of them over there either this spring or even last year, and they ended up in that area, and now they’re kind of dispersing in the neighborhoods,” Battle said. “Or if something weird is going on — like someone is intentionally feeding bears over on the west side and it’s drawing more of them over there. It’s all conjecture at this point.”

Another black bear was reported Monday at Point Woronzof, although Battle said it was not causing any problems.

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

The best way to keep bears out of neighborhoods is to use bear-resistant trash cans, or store garbage indoors and make sure it is not left outside other than on collection day, Battle said. Bird feeders should not be left up during months when bears are active.

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 twilliams@adn.com.