Staff and patients at Bartlett Regional Hospital received a surprise visitor on Monday evening.
It wasn’t another patient in unbearable pain, but something different: A yearling black bear wandered into the receiving entrance of the emergency room.
The bear had been poking around the hospital all day, said Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Roy Churchwell. There was some evidence that it had found a food source near the entrance.
“When we captured it, it was eating rose hips. They had some rose hips fruiting outside,” Churchwell said.
Hospital security shooed the bear off shortly after it arrived and no one was hurt, said BRH spokesperson Katie Bausler. But witnesses were left with a good story to tell.
Respiratory Therapist Nelea Fenumiai had just finished doing electrocardiography work in the Emergency Department when she heard an announcement about a bear in the entry way. Fenumiai captured the bear on camera and provided the Empire with these photos through Bausler.
The bear, which arrived at about 5 p.m, was chased out by security shortly after and didn’t make it far into the building.
Bartlett staff called ADFG to report the bear encounter. Department staff determined the best course of action was to capture the yearling bear alive as its persistence told them it could be a threat to itself or others.
“In this case we decided to capture this bear because it was very persistent about being around the entrances to the hospital,” Churchwell said.
The yearling bear has been separated from its sow but is in the early stages of its independent life. It was transported on Wednesday to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where it will be used in a study.
If the young bear wanted access to a hospital, it may get that wish. Churchwell said the UAF study it will now participate in investigates using MRI machines on wildlife.
• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.