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Trooper fatally shoots charging bear near southern Alaska campground

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SITKA, Alaska — An Alaska Wildlife Trooper shot and killed a charging bear that had been roaming a southern Alaska estuary and campground for about a month.

Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Phil Mooney said hundreds of people have visited the young bear since it arrived near Starrigavan River, getting close while it fed and taking pictures despite her huffs of warning, the Sitka Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/1R0ADaI).

"The Forest Service campground host repeatedly asked people to let the bear feed undisturbed and not use the boardwalk to get closer to it," Mooney said.

People called police Friday to report they were worried bystanders taking pictures were getting too close. Sitka police released a warning, asking they give the young female space.

The bear found a bucket of trash filled with fast food wrappers, and empty coffee, milkshake and sports drink containers. Mooney said the bear refused to back away from people camping and hiking in the area.

Equipment to humanely encourage the bear to leave the area was almost on hand when Mooney said the bear suddenly charged. The trooper shot the bear when it came within 10 feet of making contact.

Sows and young bears don't fare well in the estuary, where they're very visible and easily approached by people, limiting escape routes. The female that was shot was too small to collar, and there was nowhere to take it even if they could, Mooney said.

"It simply doesn't have a different area to go to on its own where it will survive," said Mooney.

Mooney says visitors looking to catch sight of a bear should keep their distance.


Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, http://www.sitkasentinel.com/

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