Brown bear shot on Douglas Island — the first documented kill in decades

An adult brown bear weighing at least 700 pounds was shot and killed by a homeowner near North Douglas Highway on May 25. Authorities ruled the killing justified in defense of life and property. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Wildlife Troopers)

A homeowner shot and killed a brown bear on Douglas Island last week. It’s the first brown bear documented on the island in more than 40 years.

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Ryan Scott is the regional conservation supervisor for Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Scott said sightings of brown bears are often reported but there’s been no proof – until now.

“Over the years we’ve had reports of bears swimming around, being sighted in the water adjacent to Douglas and some other anecdotal information,” Scott said Wednesday. “Folks see a bear and they believe it is a brown bear, but we’ve never been able to confirm it.”

Authorities didn’t name the man who reported that he heard a racket outside his home about 6:30 a.m. May 25 near mile 5 of North Douglas Highway.

“The homeowner went out to scare the bear away, which is a normal thing for Juneau,” Scott said. “Instead of responding like we would normally expect, running away, essentially, the bear actually turned to face him. The homeowner felt like the bear was imminently going to come to him and he dispatched the animal.”

The homeowner reported the shooting shortly afterward.

Alaska Wildlife Troopers investigated the killing of the male bear, which reportedly weighed more than 700 pounds. The shooting was ruled justified.

“The wildlife troopers did visit the site and talked to the homeowner and looked around a little bit and it looked like the home was well-kept,” Scott said. “There were no noticeable attractants or things like that. It’s a little bit of a head-scratcher as to why the bear was as agitated as it was.”

Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director in Juneau.

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