By Melinda Munson
Skagway Police Department (SPD) responded to calls that a brown bear had been shot and killed on the Dyea Flats on Sept. 2. After assessing the situation, the department referred the incident to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).
The Skagway News is not releasing the name of the Dyea resident who shot the bear as he has not been charged and did not wish to comment. According to SPD Chief Ray Leggett, the resident reported the bear death as “defense of life or property.”
In an atypical summer with few tourists, Skagway’s bears have been abnormally active. Residents who have more free time than usual have been watching the Dyea bears closely. There was an outcry on the Facebook group, Skagway Naturally, when news of the brown bear’s demise was posted.
A screenshot from the Facebook account of an out-of-town relative of the man who killed the bear proclaimed: “Day two of hunting season. We got a grizzly.” The post was taken down and the owner of the account did not respond to messages.
Leggett urged calm and patience while the situation is being investigated.
“Just stand down and let the trooper do his job,” Leggett advised.
Black bear season started on Sept. 1. Brown bear season does not begin until Sept. 15.
In Haines, 16 aggressive bears have been killed this year. This is an unusually high number, according to KHNS.
Leggett said so far this season, SPD has received two or three reports of problems with bears.
According to Leggett, an ADF&G representative recently came to town to investigate. The Skagway News was unable to reach ADF&G before deadline.