Wildlife officials said they shot a bear after it attacked a man in his camper near Seward during the busy holiday weekend.
The man had fallen asleep with his camper's door open at Fourth of July Beach, across Resurrection Bay from downtown Seward, according to Alaska State Troopers.
The black bear walked in the camper Sunday morning and scratched the man’s leg. It then tried to bite him, but he scared it off.
The bear ran into the woods. The man had minor injuries from the encounter.
Later that evening, the Alaska Wildlife Troopers received reports that a black bear was raiding camps and bluff charging campers in the same spot. Troopers shot and killed the bear.
It’s the third aggressive black bear they’ve killed in the Seward area in what’s been a busy season for human-bear encounters.
It’s also been a busy year for recreation, with the pandemic bringing more people out onto public lands.
Nick Fowler, a management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said that could be part of the equation when it comes to the recent string of reported bear encounters. But he said it’s more complicated than just one factor.
“Whether or not an increase in incidents is related to visitor traffic, maybe some sort of a change in food source for black bears, or any bears that are in closer proximity to humans — the answer is probably ‘yes,’ it’s probably all of these things that contribute to that," Fowler said.
He said the department gets more calls about wildlife encounters during the summer holidays.
“But that’s also probably just related to more people being out and seeing more things happen on the Kenai," he said.
Fowler said troopers killed the bear because it seemed to be habituated to humans and posed a threat to public safety.
Troopers killed a bear at Tonsina Creek in May, after it bothered several groups of hikers. Last month, they killed a bear that hikers said chased them down the Harding Ice Field Trail, by Exit Glacier.
On top of that, recreationists reported two brown bear attacks in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge this summer. Both attacks sent victims to the hospital, but no bears were harmed in either case.
Fowler said it’s hard to know how many bear encounters there have been on the peninsula, or how many bears have been killed.
Not all bear encounters are reported. And since black bears can be hunted year-round, it can be hard to tell whether kills are done in self-defense or for sport.
“So it’s difficult to track these for those two reasons," Fowler said.
Fowler said his department is confident the bear that approached the camper Sunday morning is the same one the troopers killed later that day. But he said his department will still compare samples from the bear and the scene.