The brown bear that was wounded during a hazing event in Dyea last month was put out of its misery over the weekend, two weeks after it was shot by a Skagway police officer. On Saturday, a National Park Service ranger shot the bear that had evaded authorities for two weeks.
The bear was seriously injured during an attempt to scare it away from campers by a Skagway police officer on July 16. The officer intended to use a non-lethal rubber bullet, but accidentally loaded a lethal slug and shot the bear in the rump. The wounded animal dove into the Taiya River and disappeared. It hadn’t been seen until this weekend.
Following the hazing event, the Skagway Interagency Bear Management Group, made up of representatives from the Skagway Police Department, the park service, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, evaluated the situation and determined to dispatch the bear if it still demonstrated evidence of suffering.
Skagway Police Chief Ray Leggett apologized last week on behalf of the department for the accident. He told KHNS that he was taking steps to prevent such a mishap from happening again. Leggett said the officer had only been on the job for a month at that point, and had yet to complete ‘hazing training.’
According to a park service release, on Saturday morning, a resident contacted the park ranger and reported observing an injured bear near a fishing slough on the Dyea Mud Flats The release stated that the ranger observed that the bear was unable to use one of its hind legs and was not afraid of people. After those observations, the ranger shot and killed the bear.
The park service and police department processed the bear as a ‘Defense of Life or Property’ take. After it was shot, they discovered the bear suffered from a broken femur and dislocated hip as a result of the hazing incident. The hide and skull will be turned over to Fish and Game as is required by state law.