Butte bear is back; kills 21 turkeys on local hatchery

A resident fired shots at the bear, but Fish and Game doesn’t believe it was hit
Another resident fired a few rounds, but Fish and Game doesn’t think it was hit
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:56 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BUTTE, Alaska (KTUU) - After two days with no incidents along the Matanuska River, the Butte bear has made a devastating return.

On Thursday night the bear made its way back across the river and into the pens of Polaris Hatchery. Hatchery owner, Don Dyer — who began mapping out the attacks in his community — said the bear got through his eight-foot-tall woven-wire horse fence without hesitation.

“That bear just flattened that, flattened the T-posts, you know, went right through it,” Dyer said. “That’s a pretty substantial animal. Even the moose don’t challenge that fence.”

The bear managed to eat five of Dyer’s free-range turkeys and killed another 16, which is about a $2,100 financial loss to his hatchery.

“It could have been a lot worse. It could have gotten into one of the chicken houses, but those were the areas that we had put up all the countermeasures to keep the bear away,” Dyer said. “It’s just one of those things.”

According to Dyer, the bear went on to two additional properties in the early hours of Friday morning. One homeowner even tried shooting the bear, but Tim Peltier, a Palmer area wildlife biologist for the Division of Wildlife Conservation, doesn’t think the bear was actually hit after searching the area where the shots were reportedly fired.

“It does not appear that any of the shots connected,” Peltier said. “Wildlife troopers went out at 6:30 and combed the area, Fish and Game staff joined them this morning. We searched around for a bit. We did not see any evidence that the animal was hit.”

The new series of incidents have put the already worried community even more on edge, as Dyer has now added his own property to the map he’s been curating since the problem began. The Department of Fish and Game is encouraging anyone who encounters the bear during non-office hours to contact Matcom Dispatch at 907-352-5401 to report its location.