Two brown bears killed near Eagle River after repeated trash raids

Surveillance video shows two brown bears wandering the Eagle Ridge neighborhood near Eagle...
Surveillance video shows two brown bears wandering the Eagle Ridge neighborhood near Eagle River. The bears were shot later that week by Fish and Game. (KTUU)
Published: Jun. 19, 2018 at 4:56 PM AKDT
Email this link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Two brown bears were shot and killed in Eagle River Monday night by Fish and Game officials after they were repeatedly reported to have gotten into trash in more than one neighborhood.

A Fish and Game spokesperson says the two bears were 2 or 3 years old – considered to be sub-adults, and not yet fully grown.

The bears were shot at about 11 p.m. Ken Marsh, a spokesperson for the Department of Fish and Game, said.

Marsh said in the same neighborhoods, Fish and Game has had to kill three different brown bears that had been getting into trash over the past two years. The two killed this week had been showing signs of becoming aggressive.

Brown bears are much more dangerous than black bears when they get into trash, Marsh said, because brown bears will aggressively defend a food source, including a tipped-over trash can.

“This morning, no surprise, there weren’t any trash cans tipped over because we got rid of the culprits, for now,” Marsh said. “That’s until the next bears come.”

The blame, he says, falls on people who aren’t securing their trash before trash pickup day.

“As long as we keep leaving trash out and making human-provided food available for bears, bears in the Eagle River area are going to come out of the park, they’re going to come out of the river corridor, they’re going to come off base, and they’re going to continue to get into trash, and we’re going to continue to have to repeat this cycle where we have to kill bears,” Marsh said.

Danielle Atherton lives in Eagle Ridge, a neighborhood tucked between Eagle River and Eagle River Road. She shared surveillance video of the bears with Channel 2. Her footage showed the bears roaming the neighborhood over the weekend, checking each house.

“They made the rounds to every single neighbor in our neighborhood,” she said. “I’m assuming checking for trash, because they went up to everyone’s garages.”

Atherton said while she’s sad the bears had to be killed, safety for children and the community comes first.

She presumes that since the bears were young, they just didn’t know any better. “They were always going to be trash bears. I don’t think there was going to be any chance of turning that around.”

Marsh, with the Department of Fish and Game, agrees.

“Bears are programmed to basically absorb calories,” he said. He called the pizza crusts, ice cream boxes and chicken bones in urban trash cans “easy calories.”

“That’s pretty tasty stuff and easy to get for a bear,” Marsh explained. “Sure beats having to chase through the riffles and maybe find a salmon or something like that. Once they get tuned in (to trash), they can be almost impossible to break.”