Alaska brown bear

An Alaska brown bear. 

A brown bear sow and three cubs were discovered dead in a roadside ditch in North Pole. The carcasses were reported on Saturday, and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers began an investigation on Sunday.

Lt. Justin Rodgers, deputy commander of the Fairbanks wildlife troopers, could not speak in detail about the incident in order to avoid interfering with an ongoing investigation. However, Rodgers did confirm that four bears were found dead in what appear to be suspicious — or at least unusual — circumstances in North Pole.

“It’s worth an investigation to determine the cause of death and how they ended up where they were,” he said.

According to a Facebook post, the bears were shot, but Rodgers declined to confirm the cause of death or say if the deaths were intentional. For example, he said, it is possible that they were hit and killed by a car.

Rodgers did not say how old the cubs were. The technical definition of a brown bear cub, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is a bear under 3 years old (through its second year of life).

The post received attention in both Fairbanks and North Pole Facebook groups. The overwhelming majority of commenters were disgusted by the behavior and expressed hope that the individual or individuals at fault would be held responsible.

It is illegal to kill brown bear cubs and sows with cubs in Alaska, Rodgers said. The main exception is if the bear is posing a direct threat to life or property. Moreover, hunters are required to apply for a permit through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. There are also bag limits, which restrict hunters to one to two bears a year, depending on the unit.

“We live in Alaska, bears are part of the landscape,” Rodgers said.

However, there are precautions individuals can take to prevent bears from wandering onto their property. Rodgers encouraged people to make efforts to clean up their garbage and after their livestock, which will help avoid defense of life and property situations.

If you see a bear, whether that be in the wild or in a neighborhood, do not approach the animal and make loud noises.

“Be respectful and give them space,” Rodgers said.

Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.