4 Bears Killed in Campground Reserved for Homeless

People moved to park after Anchorage closed pandemic mass shelter
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2022 10:45 AM CDT
4 Bears Killed in Campground Reserved for Homeless
Tents are shown Wednesday inside Centennial Park in Anchorage, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

(Newser) – Alaska wildlife officials have killed four black bears in a campground recently reserved for people in Anchorage who are homeless after the closure of the city's largest shelter. Employees from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday killed a sow, her two cubs, and another adult bear that was acting separately, stealing food from tents inside Centennial Park, which is managed by the city, officials say. Anchorage is Alaska's biggest city, with nearly 300,000 residents, but it's also bear country, the AP reports. The park is located in east Anchorage, nestled between Chugach State Park and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which state wildlife officials describe as a vast bear habitat.

The Department of Fish and Game says Anchorage residents share the municipality with up to 350 American black bears and up to 65 brown bears. "Certainly it's a busy bear time for us all across Anchorage," says department spokesperson Cynthia Wardlow. This part of Anchorage "does tend to be a pretty active bear area because of the high-density housing," she adds. The city closed its pandemic mass shelter at Sullivan Arena on June 30. The arena had housed hundreds of homeless people throughout the last two years, Alaska Public Media reports.

When the shelter closed, some people moved to Centennial Park, grabbing the 84 available spots after the campground stopped taking reservations from the public. Corey Allen Young, a spokesperson for Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, says there are 210 people living at Centennial Park, and that the city has provided enhanced security for camp users. The city "has also brought in 60 bear-proof food storage containers [and] 20 bear-proof 32-gallon containers and is doing hourly cleanup efforts to mitigate the trash and food," Young says. Wildlife officials say before the bears were killed, they were entering tents to get food, personal hygiene items, and trash. (Read more Alaska stories.)

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