Three brown bears shot in area near deadly mauling
Three brown bears were euthanized Friday in the same area where two recent maulings took place, one of those attacks claimed the life of Michael Soltis.
About 100 yards down the hill from where the searchers discovered Soltis’ body is where you'll find the home of Gene Petrescu.
"You realize you're in Alaska. You're near a city, but you're really near the edge of the wilderness here. And have to be cautious,” Petrescu said. “But where the incident occurred, I've walked by there a hundred times in the evening, and you just never know."
Petrescu says residents on Hiland Drive have noticed a recent uptick in bear activity, making them extra cautious of being outside in the area. Including another Hiland Drive resident who has lived there more than 40 years.
“I know better than to go out without protection,” Judy Johnson said. “I don't go out and wander around in the woods. Not this time of year."
There are too many bears for comfort right now, she says, but she still questions Fish and Game's methods of euthanizing them to extract DNA for testing.
"When we moved here in '75, we didn't have any problems with moose or bear. Now it's a daily occurrence, nearly,” she said. “I don't like to see bears put down, like her and her cubs were, to get the DNA. I think they could have got the DNA without killing them."
Ken Marsh of Fish and Game says he's heard this before — people asking to put the animals to sleep so ADF&G can get the DNA sample, and monitor them with GPS until the DNA results come back.
"We've considered that,” Marsh said. “The problem is, if that collared bear, in the weeks’ time, or ten days, or two weeks that it takes to process the DNA, it turns around and hurts somebody, that just isn't a risk we can take."
Meanwhile, residents anxiously await the DNA results for just a little more peace of mind.
"If it's the right bear or bear family, than that's definitely good news,” Petrescu said. “For the time being though, until the DNA report comes back, I think we will just continue to be ultra-cautious."
Marsh urges continued caution and says Fish and Game will continue to euthanize any brown bears seen in the area until the DNA analysis is completed.
Three brown bears have been shot and killed by Fish and Game in the area where two men were mauled, one fatally, late last month.
Fish and Game spokesperson Ken Marsh said a sow and two 1- to 2-year-old cubs were killed Friday morning.
Michael Soltis, 44, was killed by a brown bear in the Eagle River valley, off Hiland Road, after going hiking in the area near his home on Tuesday, June 19.
, closer to town, after they became aggressive while getting into trash.