The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

Bear put down by police after was found injured by a collision

Young male brownie was not the same animal wounded earlier this month


August 2, 2017

An injured brown bear was put down by police last week, but it is unlikely it was the same animal that was shot but not killed at the Gold Fields in early July.

Bart Hinkle, Valdez police chief, said Monday that the bear put down by police near the Abercrombie Bridge on Dayville Rd. last Thursday appeared to have been hit by a vehicle.

"The bear that was injured and had to be dispatched was an approximate 3 year old brown bear that had multiple broken legs and unable to walk," Hinkle said in an emailed response to questions about the incident. "Additionally, there was “road rash” and other indications of the injuries occurring as a result of a motor vehicle collision."

He also said the animal was examined extensively to look for possible wounds from a fire arm.

"Officers examined the bear for any pre-existing injuries or previous bullet holes and did not find any," Hinkle wrote. "There is no evidence to suggest that this was the same bear as the one that was shot at the Goldfields."

The probable collision with the bear was not reported to law enforcement as required by state law.

Vehicle accidents involving collisions with bears are common in the Valdez area. Hinkle said it is also not unheard of for large vehicles to hit bears and not realize it.

Hinkle said if you hit a bear with your vehicle, it is likely not safe to check on the animal on the spot. He advised motorists to move to a safe area and then contacting law enforcement.

"Of course, we're talking bears," he said, which can be overly aggressive and dangerous when injured.

Hinkle said in a telephonic interview that there has been no sign of the brown bear that was shot but not killed July 2 by a camper at the Gold Fields.

"Reports indicated that the bear was wounded" but not killed, Allie Ferko said.

Ferko, the city's public information officer, issued several alerts after the shooting, warning the public to be aware that a wounded brown bear was in the area.

Despite a finding - and following - a blood trail, volunteers and emergency officials were unable to locate the wounded animal.

"Obviously, we've seen a lot of bears since then," Hinkle said - including one brown bear well-known in the area that walks with a limp. "That was a pre-existing limp."

The animal has yet to turn up around people, despite numerous brown bear spottings in the area, which is a popular foraging and fishing area for both brown and black bears.

"We really haven't seen an aggression issues," Hinkle said.

While it is legal to shoot wildlife in Alaska if it is in defense of life and property, it is not legal to shoot bears or other wildlife if they are merely present near people.

A press release issued by the city states that Valdez police cited David Arvey, age 39, of Fairbanks, for unlawful discharge of a firearm.

"The citation requires a mandatory court appearance and may result in a find up to $500," the city said.

Alaska Wildlife Trooper also confiscated Avery's rifle.

Online court records indicate that Arvey's hearing will be held in Valdez court on August 10, following a July 19 request to postpone the original hearing date.

According to law in the state of Alaska, persons may legally take game in defense of life or property if the necessity for the taking is not brought about by harassment or provocation of the animal, by unreasonable invasion of the animal’s habitat, or by improper disposal of garbage or a similar attractive nuisance. All other practicable means to protect life and property must be exhausted before the game may be legally taken.


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