Rogue bear raids Butte chicken coops

Fish and Game aware of the problem, needs help tracking down the bear
Fish and Game is aware of the problem, but needs help tracking down the bear
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 7:25 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BUTTE, Alaska (KTUU) - As temperatures continue to cool across the state, Alaska’s largest predators are fattening up to prepare for hibernation.

But a bear in the Butte is causing havoc for residents.

Reports of property damage and dead chickens started coming into the Department of Fish and Game last week, and made a splash on Matanuska-Susitna Borough community social media pages.

Wildlife biologist Tim Peltier of the department’s Division of Wildlife Conservation said that while it’s not unheard of for bears to damage property, the large number of attacks is not normal behavior.

“Having incidences like this where we have property damage and chickens being killed like that, that’s very rare,” Peltier said. “In the 16 years that I’ve been here, this might be the third time that I’ve heard of a bear causing enough problems that it comes to our level.”

Peltier has half a dozen reports on his desk from community members that have encountered the bear’s wrath.

Another resident of the Butte, Don Dyer of Polaris Hatchery, has taken it upon himself to map out where each attack occurred to share with the community — all 11 reported incidents.

“It’s just to create public awareness so that we can track down this bear and find it, and deal with it in a productive way,” Dyer said.

According to Dyer’s map, the bear started rummaging through backyards east of the Matanuska River in the Bodenburg Loop area, before crossing the river and moving north. Some witnesses have said they saw a sow with a cub, but others have claimed they only saw the adult bear.

The hungry bear also seems to have a preference for meat, targeting mainly chicken coops.

“It’s only killed chickens,” Dyer said.

Homeowners do have a right to protect personal property under the defense of life and property law. It’s unknown whether someone has shot the bear yet, but if it becomes a threat they can legally do so. However, it’s not that black and white.

“There is a caveat to that law,” Peltier said. “You can’t have attractants, things that brought the bear into the property, to begin with.”

It’s for this reason that the department encourages Alaskans to secure their garbage cans and keep pet food secured. If an individual does shoot a bear on their property, wildlife troopers will conduct an investigation to see if there was a reason the bear was attracted to the area.

The Butte bear’s rampage lasted through the weekend until early this week, but no incidents have been reported in the last two days. It remains unclear whether the bear has moved on or if someone has shot the bear and has yet to report it.

“If somebody has taken this bear it’d be important that they report to the troopers,” Peltier said. “There’s a 15-day period from the time you took the animal that you should report in order to be within compliance of the DLP law.”

The department is actively trying to locate the problematic bear to deal with the issue, and is asking residents to send over any photos they might have. Meanwhile, the Butte community continues to keep an extra eye on their coops.

“We’ve hardened everything with extra fencing and chainlink, and now parking tractors and trucks against the doors at night,” said Dyer.