Fish and Game Kills Grizzly That Foraged in Unlocked Dumpsters around Deadhorse

Jul 31, 2017

A mother grizzly was killed by the state after getting into human food in Deadhorse. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports shooting the bear Thursday, and capturing her 2 cubs, after repeated efforts to scare off the animals failed.

Young grizzlies like this are attracted to the ready food source presented by unlocked dumpsters at food-service facilities around the oilfield- and pipeline-service community of Deadhorse. The bear's coat is tinted red by rust inside the large-diameter pipes that the bears sometimes crawl into.
Credit Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Fish and Game regional management coordinator Doreen Parker McNeill says the 10-year-old, 300-pound female had lived in the area its entire life without causing problems, but had recently begun feeding on food discarded in non-bear-proof bins.

“It doesn’t take much for a bear to realize that they can get food scraps out of an open dumpster,” she said.

McNeill says the bear, which had learned to open doors and gotten into kitchens and food storage areas, could not be deterred with nonlethal means. “She couldn’t be hazed. She would walk into areas where there were people hitting her with rubber bullets and bean bags and the loud cracker shells. It just didn’t faze her.”

The bear’s cubs were flown to a zoo in Oakland, California.  McNeill says Fish and Game personnel regret having to kill the mother bear, which was also the subject of long running research by a state biologist.

“She was a radio-collared bear, and Dick Shideler had been studying her her whole life. We’ve lost that,” McNeill said.

She says Fish and Game officials have advised Deadhorse area oil field workers to properly dispose of garbage. “We’re hoping that the support industry will really redouble their efforts to educate their employees that foods waste goes in food-waste bins that are bear-proof,” she added.

McNeil says the North Slope Borough provides bear proof bins. Thursday’s incident was the first in the Deadhorse area since 2001-2002, when a total of seven bears were killed in the area.