A brown bear accidentally shot late last month was put down by a Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park ranger on July 30.
According to a KGRNHP press release, the injured bear was observed near a fishing slough on the Dyea Flats. KGRNHP Ranger Sean Smith-Kearon arrived at the scene and after observing the bear from afar, found it to be suffering from a “dead” hind leg.
KGRNHP Chief Ranger Tim Steidel said Smith-Kearon was instructed to evaluate the bear and see if it was recovering.
“If it’s on the rebound or recovering, we don’t want to put it down,” he said.
Steidel said a tour bus parked near the bear, and it showed a lack of fear for large groups of people.
Due to the lack of fear and leg injury, Smith-Kearon shot and killed the bear in accordance with a determination by the Skagway Interagency Bear Management Group, which includes representatives from the Skagway Police Department, the park service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“We wouldn’t normally necessarily intervene with an injured bear, but because it was human-caused we did,” Steidel said.
The bear was accidentally shot by an SPD officer during a hazing incident at the Dyea campground on July 16. Campers attempting to scare it away alerted the officer to the bear. He loaded what he thought was a non-lethal rubber slug into his gun and shot.
An NPS ranger arrived on the scene and realized the bear had been shot with a live round.
The bear ran into the river and up the hillside, and evaded authorities for the next two weeks until being shot on July 30.
According to the NPS press release, the bear was processed as a Defense of Life or Property take and was found to have suffered from a broken femur and a dislocated hip.
Steidel said he found the slug in the bear’s hind leg after it had been shot, proving that it was the previously injured bear.
Its hide and skull were turned over to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as required by state law.