A black bear cub has been euthanized after it was found trapped in a snare that was illegally left out on Douglas Island, Alaska State Troopers say.
Troopers say the bear cub was severely injured after stepping into the trap, which was intended to catch wolves; the Alaska Department of Fish and Game euthanized the cub on May 29.
The owner of the snare, 39-year-old Juneau resident Mark David Mitchell, was issued a court summons Wednesday for one count of attempting to trap wolves during a closed season, according to a Troopers dispatch. That’s a class A misdemeanor.
Alaska Wildlife Trooper Jake Abbott, who is the case officer, said they’re not taking this offense lightly.
“This is definitely not something that we want to see and we take it very seriously,” Abbott said. “In this particular case, we generally have an option of charging a minor offense or a criminal offense. We feel that this is an egregious enough offense that it warrants a criminal charge in this instance.”
Abbott said a group of hikers found the bear cub in the trap near the Ready Bouillon Creek on south Douglas Island and reported it to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, as well as the Alaska Trappers Association. ADF&G personnel responded to the scene, finding the bear and determining that its injuries were so severe that it needed to be euthanized, according to the dispatch.
Troopers investigated the report, finding that Mitchell had placed the snare there earlier in the year, looking to trap wolves, Troopers said in the dispatch online. Wolf trapping season closed for that area on April 30 but the snare had been left out, the dispatch states.
Peters said Thursday that Troopers found three snares in the area, and Troopers believe there could be other snares left out elsewhere.
The bear cub was a yearling male black bear weighing about 50 pounds; one of the snares caught the bear around both hind legs, Peters said. The snare had cut the bear almost all the way to the bone, Peters said.
Mitchell could not be immediately reached for comment for this article. It’s not clear yet if he has a lawyer.
Troopers say Mitchell’s hunting privileges were already revoked at the time of this incident for a previous violation.
Abbott said the previous violation is from 2016, when Mitchell and a couple others were hunting on the Chilkat Peninsula, across from Point Retreat, and took an over-limit of moose. According to electronic court records, those were minor offenses that were filed in October 2016, and Abbott said the penalty was revoking Mitchell’s hunting license for two years.
Abbott said in his experience it’s not uncommon to find traps out out-of-season, and there are usually two reasons a trapper doesn’t collect his or her snares.
“Usually it’s either because, A, people got lazy and didn’t go back in the field to recover their gear or, B, they don’t remember where they put all their snares,” Abbott said.
Mitchell has a mandatory court appearance scheduled for 11 a.m. June 21 in relation to the new offense.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.