ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The lives of a black bear and four cubs that have been feasting on garbage in an Anchorage neighborhood will be spared after the governor on Saturday asked the state's fish and game commissioner whether they could be moved rather than shot.
Garbage cans in the densely populated neighborhood of Government Hill aren't sufficiently bear-proofed, The Alaska Dispatch News (http://bit.ly/1EYTvDg ) reported. Those opposed to killing the bears argued the animals shouldn't be punished for taking advantage of an easy food source.
Gov. Bill Walker said he felt the bears had done nothing wrong and it was right thing to do.
"I'm sure there will be plenty of criticism about the governor getting involved in this," Walker said. "But I'm a person too. I have a soft spot for individuals in circumstances not of their own making."
State Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten says the governor didn't tell his staff not to go ahead with the plan to kill the bears. He said Walker asked if there were alternatives.
Cotten says the sow and 1-year-old cubs will likely be trapped and trucked about 60 miles southeast to Portage Valley.
"It's not uncommon for a bear once moved to return," Cotten said. "Perhaps if you give them a couple of mountains to cross, they won't come back."
Cotten did not think the cost of moving one family of bears would be significant, but expenses would quickly mount if bear relocation became normal state policy.
A Department of Fish and Game statement said relocation was a short-term solution to the long-term bear problem in Anchorage.
The department urged all Anchorage residents to store trash inside buildings or bear-proof containers and keep garbage secured until the scheduled pick up day.