Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Injured black bear cub put down after romp downtown


November 17, 2011

Haines Borough police put down an orphan black bear with an injured paw Thursday, after the limping cub rustled through trash cans near Main Street.

"It was the most humane thing to do," said Fish and Game area biologist Ryan Scott. "We understand it was a sad event, for sure, but considering the information we have right now, it was the right decision. With it getting colder and food sources dwindling, it would have suffered."

In September, the bear born this year was spotted several times downtown, including near the Fish and Game office and the school. "We set up electric fences to keep it out of apple and cherry trees," Scott said.

The cub "fell off the radar" in October, but resurfaced last week, with a paw that it was holding aloft. It was spotted in a trash can near Fourth Avenue and Union Street and also in a tree nearby and at the public works shop.

Holly Jo Parnell said the bear went up a tree after her dogs went after it near her house between Dalton and Union streets. That was about an hour before police surrounded it on Main Street Thursday. The bear didn’t appear injured, she said. "It didn’t affect his climbing skills because he got up there pretty quick."

Police were called when the bear was in an alley off Main Street. With the help of a veterinarian and a needle on a long stick, police were able to sedate the animal, move it out of town and dispatch it.

Biologist Scott said the state checks for adoption options before taking in bears. "We call headquarters and see if there are any placement possibilities, but across the U.S ., black bears are prolific. The bottom line is we went though all the options available to us."

That the bear was getting into garbage wasn’t a surprise, Scott said. "An orphan cub would take any advantage to eat, especially an injured one… It was unlikely to go anywhere. He was pretty much stuck where he was."

Police chief Gary Lowe said about half the bear calls his department gets are for nuisance black bears. The department’s action last week came at the direction of Fish and Game, but fell to police, who shot the animal. "I’m sure (the officer) got no enjoyment out of it," Lowe said.

Scott said biologists also are keeping tabs on a brown bear cub spotted along the highway this weekend by eagle-watchers.