Fish & Game relocates downtown bears

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Friday relocated a family of black bears that had been frequenting downtown Juneau this summer.

Wildlife biologist Ryan Scott says the department had been looking for the sow and three yearlings for a couple months. He says they finally caught up with them just south on the Baranof Hotel on the hillside behind Gastineau Avenue.

“These guys have been extremely active in the South Franklin, Gastineau Avenue area. And they’ve been around for a long time, and they just didn’t seem to be getting any better,” says Scott. “And we had actually decided awhile ago to remove them, but as you can imagine, with four bears it’s a little bit complex and we were waiting for the right time, and the right place, and the right personnel and the whole nine yards, and it all came together.”

Scott says the bears were tranquilized and relocated off the road system. The sow was about 180 pounds, and the yearlings – all males – were between 80 and 90 pounds each. He says it’s unusual, but not unheard of for a female to hang onto her cubs for that long.

Scott says food in the form of human trash was probably attracting the bears to the area. He says this has been a pretty busy bear year.

“We have a lot of bears that seem to be in neighborhoods and urban settings. On top of that we have what appears to be a large crop of yearling bears, and again those are the ones that typically find themselves in weird predicaments. So, it’s definitely kept us busy,” Scott says.

He says most people do a good job of keeping their garbage in secure containers so as not to attract bears. But with a couple more months left before they go into hibernation, he says Friday’s trapping and relocation is a good reminder to everyone to be bear aware.