A black bear crosses the Glacier Spur Road in August 2008. <span id="_mce_caret">This is likely not the bear that was hit and killed this past weekend.</span> (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

A black bear crosses the Glacier Spur Road in August 2008. This is likely not the bear that was hit and killed this past weekend. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Black bear dies after being hit by car

Cubs euthanized as scientists deem them too young to fend for themselves

A mother black bear and her two cubs died this past weekend after the mother was hit by a car, Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said.

At about 9 p.m. Saturday, someone called JPD to report that a black bear appeared to have been hit by a car on Glacier Spur Road. Campbell said the caller was not the person who hit the bear, and that the person who hit the bear had left the scene. Officers arrived, found that the bear — an adult female — was dead and that there were two bear cubs with the adult bear, Campbell said. JPD then contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

ADF&G personnel arrived and found that the two cubs were first-year black bears and wouldn’t survive the winter without their mother. Roy Churchwell, the Juneau area wildlife biologist for ADF&G, said in an interview Wednesday that a mother teaches her cubs how to den in the winter and provides them warmth. Tom Schumacher, the ADF&G regional supervisor for Southeast, said Wednesday that the cubs would have likely experienced an “unpleasant death.”

Due to this, ADF&G personnel euthanized the two cubs.

“We do what we consider to be the humane thing,” Schumacher said.

Churchwell said he wasn’t there Saturday and didn’t know how exactly the responders euthanized the bears, but he said that usually, they tranquilize the bears and then shoot them in the head to make for as quick a death as possible. Schumacher said bears’ remains are usually taken to the landfill.

There was some concern that the mother bear was a bear known as Nikki, a bear who has been seen in the area often this summer. ADF&G personnel confirmed that the bear was not Nikki, Campbell said.

Churchwell and Schumacher explained that in some cases, orphaned bears can be sent to zoos that have openings for bears. They said that each year, ADF&G reaches out to zoos around the country to see if there are openings. Usually, those openings get filled pretty quickly. Churchwell said there are many orphaned black bears throughout the state every year, and Schumacher pointed out that black bears are common in many Lower 48 states as well, so zoos are able to fill their openings fairly quickly.

“We do our best to find places to adopt bears,” Schumacher said, “but there just aren’t that many available.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

FILE - Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sweeney's campaign manager said, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, that the campaign did not plan to sue over a finding released by Alaska elections officials stating that she cannot advance to the special election for U.S. House following the withdrawal of another candidate. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen, File)
Alaska Supreme Court ruling keeps Sweeney off House ballot

In a brief written order, the high court said it affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.

President Joe Biden signs into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. First lady Jill Biden looks on at right. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President signs landmark gun measure, says ‘lives will be saved’

The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday.

Three people were arrested over several days in a series of events stemming from a June 16 shoplifting incident, with a significant amount of methamphetamine seized. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Shoplifting investigation leads to arrests on drug charges

Significant amounts of drugs and loose cash, as well as stolen goods, were found.

Ben Gaglioti, an ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, stands next to a mountain hemlock tree damaged in winter on the outer coast of Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska. (Courtesy Photos / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Bonsai trees tell of winters long past

By Ned Rozell A GREEN PLATEAU NORTH OF LITUYA BAY — “These… Continue reading

This photo shows a return envelope from the recent special primary election for Alaska's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Friday, a judge sided with the state elections office on a decision to omit fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney from ballots in the special general election. Al Gross, who finished third in the special primary, dropped out of the race, creating confusing circumstances ahead of Alaska's first ranked choice vote. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Judge rules Sweeney wont advance to special election

Decision has Sweeney off the ballot for special election.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, June 25, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 19

Here’s what to expect this week.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Peter Froehlich, a retired Juneau district judge who is now a volunteer tour guide, explains the history of the history of the Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ in the State Office Building to a group of visitors Thursday. The organ has been idle since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now needs repairs before regular Friday lunchtime concerts and other performances on the 94-year-old instrument can resume.
Historic organ is in need of tuneup

How much it will cost and who will do it remain up in the air.

Candidate for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Tara Sweeney, a Republican, was in Juneau on Monday, May 16, 2022, and sat down with the Empire for an interview. A lawsuit filed Thursday challenges a decision to omit Sweeney from ballots in the upcoming Aug. 16 special election. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Lawsuit says Sweeney should advance in House race

The lawsuit says the Division of Elections misinterpreted state law.

Most Read