ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Seven bears have been killed in Alaska so far this year in defense of life and property shootings, officials said.
The total climbed after two bears were fatally shot overnight Tuesday in separate incidents.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said there were reportedly three black bears on an owner’s property in one incident, but Marsh says he didn’t know the circumstances of the shooting, which killed one.
The second shooting involved a brown bear attacking a chicken coop, Marsh said.
“This is the time of year when bears come down from the high country looking for food,” he said. “There’s more food down low right now. They’re going to be looking for fish. Salmon are going to be running soon. They’re looking for newborn moose calves and trash, any kind of human-type food, too.”
Marsh said there are ways to protect yourself and the bears as they pass through the area.
“Secure your trash and any kind of human-provided foods,” Marsh said. “Keep the barbecue (grill) grease trap clean, pet foods, bring those in, anything that might draw a bear. Putting electric fencing around livestock, like a chicken coop, is also a good deterrent.”
Marsh said a property owner can’t shoot a bear simply because it is on their property. To qualify as a defense of life and property shooting, Marsh said the bear has to be showing aggression, putting the resident in fear for their life, or has to be destroying property, like attacking livestock, KTVA-TV reported.
Even then, Marsh said shooting a bear is a last resort. Shouting or making noise may startle the bear and make it leave.
Two other bears have died in Alaska this year in non-defense of life and property shootings. One was struck and killed on the Glenn Highway. Another was electrocuted when it climbed a power pole.