Wildlife

Brown bear eating trash is killed in Sitka

SITKA — A bear going through trash has been killed by authorities in Sitka, a community that experienced a record number of bear incidents last year.

The weekend shooting of the male brown bear by Sitka police was the first bear shooting this year in the Southeast Alaska town, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported. Last year, 14 bears were killed in and around Sitka, which the newspaper reports was a record for the community.

Steve Bethune, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said four shots were fired, at least two of which hit the bear.

Police received a call about a bear around 11:40 p.m. Saturday. By the time Bethune arrived around 1 a.m. Sunday, officers had killed the animal, he said.

“The bear sounded like it was being very aggressive and (the shooting) sounded very justified,” he said. The bear was “actively eating trash” when it was killed, he said, and “had been acting aggressive enough early that evening, basically immediately preceding getting shot.”

GARBAGE VICTIM - Steve Bethune, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game area management biologist, skins a brown bear in the back...

Posted by Daily Sitka Sentinel on Monday, July 25, 2022

The bear likely was defending a trash pile, he said.

“This bear, my guess, had decided that there was enough trash in that neighborhood to start defending it like a bear in the wild would defend moose kill or something like that. There was more than one house in the neighborhood with trash out,” Bethune said.

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Police later Sunday issued citations at three addresses for having bear attractants.

Bethune estimated the bear was 8 to 12 years old and otherwise healthy.

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