JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Fish and Game officials euthanized a massive black bear that had been causing problems in an Alaska mobile home park area for several years.
The bear was euthanized Tuesday morning after an incident Saturday in the Switzer Village Mobile Park area in Juneau, where it became trapped in the arctic entry area of a trailer.
Resident Leoni Johnson said her husband had just left for work and she was in the back of their home where her two dogs, Buttons and Rocky, “started going nuts.”
“I heard this ‘bang bang,’ ” she said. “The dogs were going crazy. Then I heard it again and I yelled, ‘Who is it?’ “
Johnson said she went to the front and opened the door to the arctic entry, only to come face-to-face with the bear, which had gotten trapped inside the space.
Johnson slammed the door closed, locked it and ran to the back of the house before calling 911. She said she tried to get out the side door, but it was jammed shut. She eventually was able to force it open and get out that way, the Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/2h8jqoe ).
She does not keep her trash in the arctic entry, but she did have some recycling in a bag, Johnson said. There was food in a freezer in the space, including a turkey, but the bear didn’t eat any of it, she said.
Fish and Game area biologist for wildlife Stephanie Sell said Wednesday the decision was made to euthanize the bear because it was known to have a history of destructive behavior.
She has been after that particular bear for several years because it had caused a lot of property damage and had been occasionally aggressive in its behavior, Sell said.
The bear weighed 470 pounds, the biggest bear she has ever handled, Sell said.
When she got to Johnson’s trailer, Sell realized it was the bear she had been chasing and that she couldn’t justify letting him stay in the area.
“This was a massive bear,” she said, adding that typically, male black bears get up to 250 to 300 pounds. “He could cause some serious damage. He was tearing the structure apart trying to get out. . After I darted it, he busted right through the wall.”
Sell said it was not that unusual to find bears in the area, noting that a fair number of the mobile home park residents tend to keep their trash cans in their arctic entries, which often have flimsy doors.
“We work hard to make people aware that the bears are in the area because of the attractants,” Sell said, citing garbage and chickens in particular.
“I think people become complacent — they need to be proactive instead of reactive,” she added, recommending Juneau residents invest in bear-resistant garbage cans and electric fencing for their chickens.