Police euthanize bear after it was hit by car

The Juneau Police Department euthanized a bear after it was struck by a car in the Mendenhall Valley Wednesday night, according to police.

Shortly after 8 p.m., JPD received a call from a driver who had hit a black bear while driving on Mendenhall Loop Road near Kodzoff Acres Mobile Home Park.

The bear wasn’t killed on impact. JPD spokesman Lt. David Campbell said the driver informed police that it was walking around on the road in the area and that it seemed “confused” from the trauma.

Campbell said when officers responded, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommended they euthanize the bear rather than let it suffer.

“It’s a really unfortunate situation when animals and cars come in contact and the animal has to be euthanized, but it’s the humane way to handle it,” Campbell said.

Katie Damian, a Juneau resident, said the incident happened right behind her house. She witnessed the bear being shot.

“The officer had a big ol’ shotgun, and right when I walked out of my house, he shot it,” she said. “I was like holy crap, and the bear went down for the count.”

Killing the bear was the right move, given its condition, Damian said. The police officers told her afterward that the bear’s two hind legs were broken and that “its face was pretty messed up,” she said.

Campbell wasn’t able to comment on the condition of the bear.

The Department of Fish and Game biologist who responded to the call was not available to comment Thursday.

Several bears are killed in car crashes in the capital city every summer. In late May, a motorcyclist collided with a black bear out the road near Eagle Beach and killed it instantly. Two of its orphaned cubs were found in nearby trees and were euthanized by Fish and Game, who said the cubs would not survive in the wild without their mother.

“It’s not an unusual occurrence,” Campbell said, of black bears being struck by cars. “It’s not frequent, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.”

Such accidents are more likely to occur around this time of year, as bears are more actively searching for food before hibernation. Bear sightings in town will begin to drop off in the next two weeks as they go to den.

Police said Wednesday’s incident will not be investigated further.

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