Black bear shot dead while trying to get into tent near Portage campgrounds

Federal officials say they shot and killed a black bear Monday when it tried to tear into an occupied tent near two Portage campgrounds.

A law enforcement officer with the U.S. Forest Service shot the animal around noon at a Portage Valley campsite, said Brandon Raile, a spokesman for the Chugach National Forest. Raile said he did not have details about how many people were inside the tent, but there were no injuries.

The tent was located near but not within the Black Bear and Williwaw campgrounds operated by the Forest Service along Portage Glacier Road, officials said.

The incident came about 10 days after a black bear tore into another occupied tent in the Williwaw Campground, injuring a woman and prompting campground closures to many users. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is testing a DNA sample taken from the original incident and comparing it to samples from Monday’s attack to determine if it’s the same animal, said Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor for the department. They should know by early next week, she said.

The Williwaw and Black Bear campgrounds will remain closed to tents and soft-sided campers until Friday, the Forest Service said. Part of the Williwaw Campground remains entirely closed until Friday.

After the first incident at Williwaw, a bear was seen near the campgrounds getting into food, Wardlow said.

“We’re just encouraging anybody who is camping there or anywhere in Alaska to keep campsites clean, keep attractants put away where bears can’t get in them,” she said. “It can certainly create a public safety hazard not only for yourself, but for anyone who is camping at that site in the future.”

The Byron Glacier Trail in Portage was also closed last week to the public because a black bear was seen eating a moose kill near the trail. That closure is expected to last until July 4.

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.