Grizzly Killed In Car Accident In Anchorage

Alaska.com, Bear Hunting Magazine
08/23/2008

Early Friday morning Howard Hawkins Jr. was driving to get a morning cup of coffee and hit a large grizzly bear running at a full gallop across one of Anchorage's busiest streets on the way.

"It just happened so fast. I didn't have time to react. I wasn't even able to hit my brakes or anything. What stopped the forward motion of the car is that I ran into a big bear," Hawkins stated. He hit the bear shortly before 4 a.m. in what is the latest in a summer of close encounters between human and bruin in Alaska's largest city.

The male bear came out of the woods from one of Anchorage's many greenbelts. It was struck on a four-lane highway near a large car dealership and RV campground. The collision pushed in the front end of Hawkins' Land Rover. The vehicle's air bags deployed but luckily Hawkins was uninjured.

He called 911 and got out of his car to await police. The bear, now angry and in a lot of pain with a broken leg, was behind the Land Rover stumbling around, roaring and growling. Officers arrived within minutes and advised Hawkins to get back in his vehicle which he did.

At one point, the bear charged the officers, police spokesman Paul Honeman said. The grizzly made its way off the road and back into the woods, where officers found it and killed it.

The bear was No. 211, a 15-year-old grizzly that was part of a state Fish and Game research study to determine how many bears there are in Anchorage. The bear was trapped in 2006 and fitted with a global positioning collar that showed it stayed mostly in one of two areas, including Far North Bicentennial Park where there have been two bear maulings and several encounters with grizzlies this summer.

One of the bears, a sow with two cubs that was believed to be responsible for much of the trouble, was shot and killed Tuesday. DNA showed that bear was not the one responsible for the most serious attack, on a 15-year-old bicyclist.

The grizzlies come into Anchorage in the summer to feed on salmon and moose, said Sean Farley, a Fish and Game research biologist who conducted the study that showed residents share the city with at least 20 grizzlies.

So far this summer, 18 black bears and one grizzly have been shot in the municipality in defense of life or property. That's a higher number than normal, said Jessy Coltrane, an assistant area wildlife biologist. Last year, that total was about 10 black bears and one grizzly, she said.

Coltrane said No. 211 did not have a history of trouble and was an example of the many grizzles that quietly share the city with residents. "It just goes to show Anchorage is bear country," said Bruce Bartley, a Fish and Game spokesman. "This is a bear that had lived to a ripe old age in an urban setting and had done pretty well until today."



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