• Annual wake from hibernation has bears looking for easy prey in neighborhood
By Naomi Klouda
A brown bear is the suspected culprit of a chicken coup raid and of seriously damaging a spring garden after ripping into a high tunnel off Greer Road, nine miles East End Road in the Fritz Creek area. The bear has also wreaked havoc on Yukon Road before Greer.
Adam Green found all his plantings ruined – carrots, beats, potatoes, greens.
“All trampled,” he said Monday. “The bear came along and put his paws on it and pushed in all the sides every four feet. He ripped open doors on each end – absolutely ripped it apart,” Green said. The damage can be repaired but it’s going to take some work.
The bear made off with one duck and three chickens, before all of them scattered into the trees and needed to be herded back.
“One of the chickens is injured. The bear just attacked them, chewed on them and left them there. He had already gotten into other chicken coups,” he said. “Maybe he was full.”
Since its established itself as a nuisance bear, neighbors on Greer were given permission to shoot it.
“We’ve had a lot of reports about that bear. It’s obviously the time of year when the bears are waking up and they’re a little mischievous and a lot hungry,” said Wildlife Officer David Chaffin. “We’re asking people to keep vigilant and an eye out. If it gets to be enough of an issue – we’ll address it.”
In the case of the Greer Road bear, officials received a lot of calls. But Fish and Game Wildlife Technician Larry Lewis said the department surprisingly hasn’t received many spring calls about bear incidents. “There are a lot of moose carcasses. We’re not getting very many calls around residential areas. They may be finding dead moose and that’s easy pickings for them,” he said.
Fish and Game estimates 135 moose, the majority calves or yearlings, died of starvation this year. That doesn’t count the road-killed moose. “Some we highly suspect were starvation animals. We’ve been looking at the bone marrow, the condition of the bone taken from the femur, which is severely depleted of nutrition (in moose that starved). By the time they were eating spruce needles they weren’t doing real well,” Lewis said.
The deep snows this past winter impacted a number of animals, though the most noticeable sufferers were the moose. The owl populations are high right now, reports Kasilof resident Tom Baxter. That’s largely due to an abundant food source in the snowshoe hare population. But he is warning people after his own painful experience that the Great Horned owl tends to like eating cats.
“An Anchor Point wildlife trooper told me he has never seen this many owls before. I lost a cat to a Great Horned owl, and I am sure many other missing small pets can be attributed to owl kills,” he said. “Owls are not wise, they are viscous predators.”
Baxter said he watched an owl make off with his cat last year. The Great Horned owls are nesting and populating heavily in the Kasilof-Anchor Point area, he said.
“A wildlife trooper said he went out one night and made owl calls. Within 45 minutes, he had 20 owls around him,” Baxter said.
“The reason is because of the rabbits. But Great horned owls favor cats over rabbits. I was born and raised in eastern Washington where they eat barn cats,” he said. “You can set them next to each other and the owl would chose the cat any day.”
But laws are different for defending domestic animals from owls than they are in protecting from bears. “You can’t legally kill an owl. Owls are federally protected.”
As for protecting domestic animals from bears, Lewis recommends an electric fence.
“If there’s anything you want to protect from a curious or hungry bear, portable electric fences for temporary camp situations are good,” Lewis said. “A good quality hard-wired system is an excellent idea. We deal with an inordinate amount of calls pertaining to livestock.”
While brown bears generally wake up earlier than black bears, there are a number of variables at work on when humans begin to encounter them more.
“Around Memorial Day weekend, you’ll generally see black bear activity. It’s also good to watch out in the late part of May and early June for moose calves. A No. 1 risk for humans is getting between a cow and a calf,” Lewis said. “Be aware when you’re out walking around to give moose a lot of room. Those animals will be very defensive of their young.”
The yearling calves are getting chased away from their mothers, which also causes confusion.
“You’ll see problems there, too. They are getting chased off from what they knew were safe and secure. You’ll see them follow people. They’ll chase people some times, come after people. Just respect them for the big animals that they are, and give them a lot of room,” Lewis said.
Comments are closed