A chapter in the story of a family of five black bears roaming Anchorage's Government Hill neighborhood came to a close Thursday morning with the capture of the fourth and and final cub.
"It has been quite a saga for the community, the bears, and the department," said Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesperson Ken Marsh.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, the final cub was captured inside of a live trap on private industrial land near Government Hill. It was the same location two other cubs were captured Wednesday, and where the sow had been darted Tuesday night.
The first cub was captured on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Monday.
Marsh said Fish and Game always tries to capture the sow first. He said the cubs become much more vulnerable without "the ringleader," and will typically move around much less.
He said Fish and Game knew a live capture of five wild animals would be complex -- a typical capture only includes one or two animals, Marsh said.
The bears returned to Government Hill for the second year in a row earlier in April, prompting concern over human-bear interactions as the animals rooted through garbage and spectators gathered to watch.
Fish and Game initially announced plans to kill the bears before the situation escalated, but Gov. Bill Walker intervened, ordering the department to capture and relocate the bears instead of killing them. Then, they slipped from Fish and Game's radar for about a week.
Once the sow was darted earlier this week, Fish and Game knew it would be only a matter of time before the rest of the cubs could be baited out of treetops and into live traps, Marsh said.
The bear family has been taken to the Alaska Zoo, where they will remain until they're transported to an undisclosed location.
"We want to send them to the remote location and not have them hassled by people who may be curious," Marsh said. "We want to give them the best opportunity to acclimate to their new setting undisturbed to start this new chapter in their lives."
According to Marsh, the sow, along with her two female yearlings and two male yearlings, were "de-stressing" at the zoo Thursday morning.
All of them will be outfitted with GPS collars before being released into their new home.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing