A Sitka resident shot and killed a brown bear in his backyard last week (8-9-19), after the animal reportedly charged him. The incident occurred in the 2000 block of Sawmill Creek Road, which has seen an uptick in bear activity over the last couple of weeks.
Fish and Game biologist Steve Bethune says the department received several calls recently, and he has reason to believe all were regarding the same bear.
“People were mainly seeing it on the side of the road doing normal bear stuff. Eating berries and just kind of coming and going. It began to be more visible. Hanging out more during daylight hours. Getting into trash,” Bethune says. “We even had a gal a couple of nights ago who wasn’t able to get out of her car in her driveway because the bear was in her vicinity and wouldn’t leave.”
Bethune says the bear was small, just under 200 pounds, likely around three years old. The bear even caught and killed a chicken from a coop. And on Thursday, a homeowner in the Seaview Heights neighborhood called 911 to report he’d shot the bear in his backyard.
“He’d heard some commotion from his dogs and stepped out,” says Bethune. “The bear was in his yard. He described the bear as charging him, so he dispatched it.”
Bethune says when someone shoots a bear, there’s a bit of paperwork that goes along with it, and some physical labor.
“Generally the person who kills the bear is required to skin out the hide and bring it to us, just like it was a regular hunting mortality,” he says. “Then we have a series of defense of life and property paperwork that we fill out for that.”
He says with the salmon in Indian River starting to run and a strong berry harvest this year, natural food sources are readily available. But even with lots of food, a full trash can will still attract a bear. Bethune recommends putting out trash on the day of pickup.