A brown bear got more than a warning shot on Saturday when a Skagway Police Department officer accidentally loaded and fired a real bullet.
The adult male bear was in the National Park Service’s Dyea Campground when it was shot, according to Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park officials. Park officials say the bear could still be alive and authorities will be keeping a watchful eye for it in the days to come.
Bears are typically “hazed” in order to “create a negative experience” to deter them from approaching humans and sources of food, a news release states. This is often done with non-lethal rubber slugs and noise deterrents.
The Skagway officer who shot the bear reported he inadvertently loaded a lethal slug before firing and hitting the bear in its hind section. The animal fled the campground after being shot.
National Park Service personnel were not present when the bear was shot. Park rangers and Skagway police searched for the injured bear, observing it cross the Taiya River.
“The bear was observed to be walking with great difficulty and is believed to have succumbed to the river current,” according to an NPS statement. “Subsequent search efforts along the river bank have indicated no further sign of the injured bear, but authorities have not been able to verify that the bear has died from its wounds.”
Authorities believe the bear is the same one that has been spotted around Dyea since early this summer.