Black bear shot after entering Anchorage airport post office

Warning sign of a black bear within the Anchorage Processing and Distribution Center. (Photo courtesy Amateur Photographer)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Nothing stops the U.S. Postal Service, except possibly a black bear.

On Sunday evening, officials say work came to a halt at the Anchorage Processing and Distribution Center by the airport, when a black bear entered the facility.

Around 11:30 p.m., the bear walked in through an open door used for mail delivery.

"Mail comes in – almost throughout the day – from our trucks or from the air carriers," said Dawn Peppinger, marketing manager for the Alaska District USPS. "So the area where this occurred would be some doors, where the mail would be coming through."

As soon as an employee spotted the bear, managers were notified, said Peppinger. From there, the management staff immediately called law enforcement.

According to case reports, both the Anchorage airport police and officers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"It was a very quick response that we had," said Peppinger.

An announcement was made for the employees to evacuate to a specific area, according to Peppinger. Plus, managers went out on the floor to ensure that everyone left their work stations.

She added that USPS's emergency response team was permitted to remain on the floor, in order to assist the airport police department in locating the bear.

"When the bear entered our facility, we have some high and low places – plenty of places to hide," said Peppinger.

Working together, Peppinger said the responding units were able to herd the bear into a smaller trash compact area. But because the area contained garbage, responders could not continue herding the animal out of the building.

At this point, she said the Anchorage airport police were able to "dispatch the bear."

Officials say no harm came to humans, equipment and mail. But the same cannot be said for the black bear.

Ken Marsh, with the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, confirms that the airport police fatally shot the bear, saying, "Police did what they had to do."

Peppinger told Channel 2 that emergency protocol worked out "perfectly."

According to the preliminary report, about 75 employees were in the facility upon the bear's arrival; however, Peppinger now says this number is closer to 40.

"A majority of our employees (were) already taking a break," she explained.

Additionally, Peppinger said no customers were in the building at this time, because retail services closed at 11 p.m.

Throughout her 32-years of employment, Peppinger cannot recall a situation like this previously occurring in Anchorage. But she said it does not catch her off guard – entirely.

"Really as a born and raised Alaskan, and knowing that we’ve got wildlife at our backdoor, it’s not surprising that a situation like this can happen," she told Channel 2.

According to Peppinger, managers are continuing to check up on the general welfare of their employees.

And the carcass of the black bear, which was previously collared as part of a study, was donated to the University of Alaska for research, according to Marsh.

Warning: Below are photos of the black bear carcass.


Bear carcass is forklifted out of the Anchorage Processing and Distribution Center. (Photo courtesy Amateur Photographer)
Bear carcass is forklifted out of the Anchorage Processing and Distribution Center. (Photo courtesy Amateur Photographer)


 
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