Sitka area sees three human-bear encounters in one month

SITKA — U.S. Forest Service employees shot and killed a brown bear near Sitka where two wilderness guides were mauled by a bear while leading a hiking excursion last month.

Sitka District ranger Perry Edwards said the Forest Service workers shot the animal as it charged them on Aug. 27. The incident marked the third time in a month that a bear was shot near the city.

“From the first time they saw the bear to the time they shot that bear was four seconds,” Edwards said. “There’s a lot of stuff that happens in your mind in four seconds.”

Edwards said the female bear, which was found to have two cubs, could have been acting defensively to protect her offspring or her food source in a nearby stream.

The two wilderness guides were injured in an Aug. 18 attack after the group they were leading came between a female bear and her cub. Earlier in the month, a Sitka resident shot a charging bear.

In the latest incident, Edwards said the employees who shot the bear had utilized the Forest Service’s bear safety training, which requires staff to shoot three targets within 10 seconds. Two of the shots must strike fatal areas.

“We train all our field-going crews to use a whole bunch of non-lethal and lethal ways of dealing with bears,” Edwards said. He added that the Forest Service isn’t just “shooting every bear that we see. I feel sorry about what happened to the bear.”

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