4 bears killed at Centennial Campground for homeless

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 2:47 PM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2022 at 5:18 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says four black bears were killed at the Centennial Park Campground in Anchorage on Tuesday. The park was recently repurposed by the Municipality of Anchorage as the site of a new campground for homeless people, many of whom came directly from the Sullivan Arena when it shut down as a shelter on June 30.

According to a press release sent out Wednesday, a sow, her two cubs, and an adult black bear were killed by Department of Fish and Game employees after repeatedly getting into tents with food inside. The release said the decision to kill the bears was a matter of public safety.

“Centennial Campground staff are doing the best they can to manage the campground and minimize attractants, but there are still a lot of tents with food in them,” said Biologist Dave Battle in the release. “Until that changes, more bears are going to come into the campground and get into tents. That’s a safety issue both for the people staying there now, and anyone who stays there after them.”

Newly appointed Parks and Recreation Director Mike Braniff said efforts are being made to ensure the campground remains clean and safe.

“Every hour on the hour — and we sign off on it in the office — we come out and we clean, we communicate, and really educate folks as to bear-safe practices, and things that we are seeing that could make the situation better,” Braniff said.

The city recently purchased 60 bear-proof canisters and is encouraging campers to store their food there. Anchorage Solid Waste Services has also distributed several bear-resistant trashcans at the campground. Braniff said Parks and Recreation staff are making hourly rounds throughout the campground.

“This is 24 hours a day, we send somebody out to make the rounds, to see what’s going on, communicate with folks,” Braniff said. “And also volunteer to clean up any trash they may have accumulated since the last visit.”

Braniff noted that the area has a history of bear encounters but said the department is working hard to run a safe campground,

“It’s always been important for us over the years to engage in bear-safe practices, educate campers as to what they are and work in partnership with fish and game to help make sure we run the safest campground we can understanding that bears have always been here and probably always will be,” Braniff said.

The Department of Fish and Game is asking is asking anyone who sees a bear accessing garbage in Anchorage to report it immediately, online and reminding residents to call 911 for bear-related emergencies.

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