3 bears killed at Eklutna campground after getting into campers’ food

Three black bears were killed last week in two separate incidents after they got into campers’ food and gear at the Eklutna Lake Campground, Alaska State Parks officials said.

Two bears were killed on June 24 by state park rangers after attempts to haze them away with nonlethal rounds were unsuccessful, and a third was killed June 27 at the campground north of Anchorage, Alaska State Parks said in an online statement Tuesday. All of the bears were adult animals, said Ben Corwin, superintendent of Chugach State Park.

In the first incident, rangers received reports on June 24 that “two to three black bears” were getting into tents, food and other gear at the campground, the agency said in its statement. Rangers arrived to find two bears in a campsite “actively eating the camper’s food and getting into his gear,” the agency said.

The rangers determined the bears had become too habituated to humans and put them down. The bears were salvaged and donated to charity, the agency said. According to the agency and Corwin, an attempt to haze the bears with nonlethal measures had been made a few days before the campground encounter.

On June 27, rangers again were called to the Eklutna Lake Campground for a report of a black bear. Corwin, who was present during this encounter, said he and the ranger tried to haze the bear away from the campground at least three times, but that it kept circling back to the campground. That bear was also euthanized, salvaged and donated to charity.

💥💥Wildlife Incident - ASP2404371💥💥 ✔️✔️On 6/24/2024 at approx. 1230 hours State Park Rangers followed up with reports...

Posted by Alaska State Parks on Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Corwin said that killing a bear is always the last resort in an effort to protect public safety. With the third bear in particular, he said it seemed to have shown up “pretty aggressive” and that its bad habits progressed quickly.

“I don’t expect campers to defend their picnic table from a bear,” Corwin said. “That’s a pretty grave public safety issue, once a bear becomes bold enough to exhibit that kind of behavior.”


The last time a bear had to be killed at the Eklutna Lake Campground was in June 2023, according to Cory Stantorf, the Anchorage area biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game.

Campers can minimize the chance of attracting a bear by keeping their food secured in a bear-resistant container or a hard-sided vehicle, Corwin said. It’s also important to not leave coolers unattended or put any food or other attractant into a fire pit, he said. Bears can become trained to expect an easy food source over a long period of time, or it can happen relatively quickly, Corwin said.

“Unfortunately, sometimes, once they receive that easy handout it becomes pretty ingrained, and it’s a hard thing to un-train them from,” he said.

No fines were given out in these recent incidents, but Corwin said campers who don’t properly secure their food can be subject to a $300 fine. This has been a particularly active season for bears at Eklutna, and Corwin said if encounters like this continue, it could lead to more bears being euthanized or campgrounds and facilities being shut down.

“To euthanize a bear is the absolute last-ditch effort to provide for public safety, and it’s something that we don’t take lightly,” he said.

While the bear encounters occurred last week, Alaska State Parks didn’t post about them on social media until Tuesday because incidents that occur throughout the week are compiled in a report that’s given to Department of Natural Resources staff the following Monday, according to Wendy Sailors, the community engagement manager for state parks. Incidents that need to be reported on the agency’s social media are then forwarded to the community engagement team, she said.

Megan Pacer

Megan Pacer is a digital audience producer at the Anchorage Daily News. A 2015 graduate of Central Michigan University, she's previously worked as a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai and the Homer News, and as a digital producer for Alaska's News Source in Anchorage. Contact her at mpacer@adn.com.