Necropsy results indicate bear involved in Tuesday attack not the same as the one in Butte

Fish and Game says it’s not definitive, but unlikely
Fish and Game says it’s not definitive, but unlikely
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:05 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - A necropsy has been completed on the bear that attacked a 9-year-old boy and an adult male on Tuesday evening near Palmer.

The two were hunting in the Palmer Hay Flats area when they stumbled across a sow and her cub. Regional Management Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Conservation Todd Rinaldi said Thursday that he believes the individuals surprised the bear.

“These were folks that were engaged in hunting activity which is usually a quiet activity,” Rinaldi said. “It becomes a really tricky situation to hunt animals in the bush while simultaneously making your presence known and not surprising animals like bears.”

According to Rinaldi, the pair tried to remove themselves from the situation upon encountering the animal, but the bear made threatening moves, causing the adult to fire his weapon. The carcass was discovered by Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers that same evening.

After numerous households experienced chicken coop raids in the last week, residents were left wondering if it was the same bear that had been showing up in the Butte, but department officials don’t believe that it is.

“We found no evidence to suggest that this bear had been feeding on chickens or poultry, it didn’t have any human garbage or anything in its digestive tract,” Rinaldi stated. “Now that itself is not exclusionary, but it seems to suggest that at least that bear was not involved with any chicken coop raids over the last day or two.”

There have been no reported raids on coops or hatcheries since last Friday. Rinaldi said it is possible that the Butte bear didn’t have any poultry left in its system, but said the cub is another factor in determining whether it’s the same bear or not.

“The reports that we had from the bear in the Butte is that it was a single individual,” Rinaldi said. “Now, that’s not a hard and steadfast fact.”

Both wildlife and state troopers performed ground and aerial searches for the sow’s cub but were unable to locate it. Because of the cub’s estimated age, Rinaldi said it is unlikely that it would be suited for captivity.

“At this point, we believe that it may not even be a cub of this year based on its movements,” Rinaldi said.

According to Rinaldi, bear cubs that are beyond the first couple of weeks of life outside the den typically do not do well in captive facilities. Rinaldi also suspects the cub may continue to spend more time around human habitation to make it through the winter months.

“Unfortunately, if this bear, if this cub did show up and it did show signs of distress, we would probably euthanize it because we don’t really have a home for the cub at this point,” Rinaldi stated.

The department is asking residents to report any sightings of the cub to Fish and Game. The Butte bear is still on their radar, and residents living in that area should also report any additional sightings going forward.