A man dressed in a bear costume was reported to state troopers this week for harassing a sow and bear cubs on the Chilkoot River.
Mark Sogge with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in Haines says their Chilkoot Lake weir technician witnessed and wrote a report about the incident.
Technician Lou Cenicola reported that around 7:30 p.m. Monday, a man in a “realistic-looking” bear costume ran through a group of people standing on the side of the road bear-watching. The man ran “waving and jumping” up to the weir gate, trying to get the attention of a sow with cubs. Cenicola says the man in the costume got within 5-10 feet of the cubs.
Cenicola reported that he ran toward the man to stop him, telling him he could be cited for wildlife harassment. The man then left without identifying himself. Sogge says Cenicola did get the man’s license plate number, and Fish & Game reported the incident to state troopers.
Troopers Spokesperson Megan Peters says they know about the incident and are investigating. No charges have been filed.
Sogge says getting that close to bear cubs when their mother is present could have ended tragically. He says wearing a bear costume will not deter a mother bear from attacking a person if she thinks her cubs are threatened.