ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - UPDATE:
It was shortly after 5:00 a.m., and Anchorage resident Jackie Keating was out for an early morning hike, when she met an unexpected trail user.
Jacqueline Keating took these photos of a bear breaking into a vehicle at the Glen Alps trailhead on Friday, July 6. The bear was later shot by a Chugach State Park ranger.
"I was starting to get out of my car and get ready, and I looked over to the ranger truck and saw a bear walk around it. So I got back in my car and watched him walk up to the Subaru that was kind of in the middle of the parking lot,” Keating said. “He eventually jumped up above the front of the car, and he jumped on top and was trying to reach into the window. Then he eventually got down on the side and smashed the driver side window in."
Chugach state park chief ranger Ben Corwin was on a routine patrol. He arrived at the trailhead around 8:30 a.m.
"Out from the side of the Forester was a black bear carrying a soft cooler in its mouth, and it proceeded towards a line of alders on the far side of the parking lot," Corwin said.
Corwin placed himself in between the bystanders and the bear, and called up a friend in Fish and Game for advise on how to proceed.
"He advised me that if I had a clear shot to euthanize the bear,” Corwin said. “In this case, this particular bear has probably gone from taking easy handouts to transitioning to actually breaking into vehicles, which is definitely a public safety issue."
The Subaru Forester belongs to hiker Thadeus Barringer, who is visiting Alaska from Colorado. He says he was backpacking Ship Creek Pass when the incident occurred.
When he saw the broken window, he expected a human burglar.
"So I was pretty happy to learn that it was a bear, and pretty incredulous,” Barringer said. “There were paw prints everywhere. We found hair on the inside. And I was happy all of our cash was still there."
Corwin says this serves as yet another example to the public to not leave food inside your vehicles. Be bear aware, he says, and you might just save an animal's life.
A black bear was shot and killed at the Glen Alps trailhead Friday morning after it broke into an SUV and stole an early-morning snack.
Chugach State Parks Chief Ranger Ben Corwin says after a wildlife standoff at the Glen Alps trailhead Friday, he shot a bear he says had escalated its hand-out seeking behavior to the point it had become a safety issue.
Early Friday morning Chief Ranger Ben Corwin says he was on regular patrols when he pulled into the Glen Alps parking lot to find a small crowd gathered on one side of the lot, taking pictures of something. Corwin says that immediately got his attention as unusual.
He noticed a black Subaru Forester with broken glass around it on the ground, and when he pulled around the caretaker's building, he saw the bear run from the car carrying a soft picnic-style cooler, which it dropped while it made its way to a stand of alders on the side opposite from Flat Top Mountain.
That's when Corwin called Fish and Game Biologist Cory Stantorf. He says during a short chat with Stantorf, the two determined how dangerous the bear was and that Corwin had permission to shoot it if he was able to get a clear shot.
Corwin says he moved his truck between the alders and the Subaru and worked to try and get the bear to come out in the open. It was somewhat of a cat-and-mouse game; going up the stairs and coming back down a couple of times. During that time, he says the bear huffed at him a couple times and slapped the ground-- behaviors he says showed the animal's danger to people in the area. After another trip up the stairs that grow alongside the alders, Corwin says the bear came out into the open and he was able to take aim with his shotgun and kill it.
A few bystanders, who Corwin says identified themselves as members of the military, offered to help him load the carcass into his truck to turn it in to Fish and Game biologists. Corwin, although glad to have subdued a dangerous situation says he's sorry that some of those folks had to witness the euthanization.
He also added during an interview with KTUU that this kind of bear behavior is common at campgrounds and the escalation of going from easy handouts to breaking into cars meant a grim outlook for the bear.
By the time the dust had settled, the owners of the Forester with out-of-state plates hadn't returned to their car. Corwin says he left his card and a note for them to call him once they get back.