Musher Brent Sass kills aggressive bear while moose hunting near Eureka

Brent Sass at the 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ceremonial start in Anchorage Saturday, March 7, 2020. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

Three-time Yukon Quest sled dog race champion Brent Sass says he shot an aggressive black bear while moose hunting alone near his kennel in Interior Alaska.

Sass said the young bear began showing up in his hunting camp near Eureka. It once chewed up a pair of boots and, another time, climbed a tree where Sass was in a stand looking for a moose.

“It got real close and I had to kick him down,” said Sass.

Listen to Brent Sass recount the bear encounter:

Sass said he did not have bear spray and shot the animal when it later showed up outside his tent in the dark.

“Literally unzipped the tent door and he was like 5 feet. His eyes were staring me in the face,” said Sass. “And I yelled, ‘Hey, get out of here! Hey bear!’ And he didn’t move. I grabbed my gun and he was still just staring at me. And I was like at point-blank range.”

Sass said he’s always been able to co-exist with bears in the past.

“They would move out when I moved in. And I’ve never had a problem with this before,” said Sass. “I mean, I live in the wilderness, so I’m interacting with wildlife all the time.”

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He said this bear appeared to be predatory.

“He was definitely checking me out and he was not scared,” said Sass. “The look in his eye was like, ‘I’m not backing down.'”

Sass said he is now processing the bear meat into sausage and jerky, then he plans to get back to moose hunting.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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