A young brown bear seen and photographed by many people along the Seward Highway south of Anchorage in recent weeks was euthanized Tuesday after charging one too many hikers. Among other incidents, the bear had been surrounded and approached by camera-wielding motorists at Rainbow last week.
Jessy Coltrane, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said she decided to euthanize the 2-year-old female bear after it ran towards a hiker on the Turnagain Arm Trail, near McHugh Creek, Tuesday morning. A pattern of overly bold behavior was developing. The 200-pound bear reportedly charged two other hikers on the same trail earlier this week.
In each instance, the bear stopped a short distance from the hikers, but the hikers broke and ran. "People were seeing her all the time and doing absolutely the wrong thing," Coltrane said.
Experts strongly recommend not running from a bear. A bear can easily outrun any human and running may trigger a chase reflex. Instead of running, bear-safety experts recommend standing your ground. Most charging bears stop or veer off before making contact. Only after the bear stops approaching is it time to slowly increase your distance from the bear. Playing dead is only recommended when a bear is acting defensively and makes contact.