Problem bear captured, will not be killed | SierraSun.com

Problem bear captured, will not be killed

Charles Levinson, Sierra Sun

Alpine Meadows – The rogue bear that had been breaking into Alpine Meadows homes was captured Friday afternoon and, after a rare policy exception by the California Department of Fish and Game, is bound for a wildlife sanctuary in Colorado.

After two weeks of at times bitter argument about what should be done with the bear, both sides are content with the end result. The problem bear, which had been breaking into a home a day, has been removed from the community, but will not be euthanized.

“I am thrilled this bear is not being killed,” resident and BEAR League member Kate Ulberg said. “I had complete faith that the public outcry would save this bear.”

Elvira Nishkian, who had her house broken into by the problem bear and requested the second of two depredation permits issued, said she is simply glad to see the bear removed.

“Get it off anywhere, I don’t care where,” she said. “As long as it’s gone.”

Even John Nicholas, the trapper responsible for catching and euthanizing problem bears in the basin seemed pleased with the resolution.

“If somebody pays to transfer the bear elsewhere it doesn’t matter to me,” Nicholas said. “One less bear I have to kill I guess.”

Alpine Meadows resident Jim Kenney set in motion the chain of events that led to the bear’s capture. Friday morning, after the bear broke into his home for the third time in as many days, Kenney chased the bear out of his house and into a nearby tree. Once in the tree, the BEAR League responded and worked to keep the bear in the tree until Fish and Game officials could arrive.

Biologist Patrick Foy warned that allowing the bear to be taken to a sanctuary was a one time only exception that he attributed largely to public pressure.

“We’re terribly concerned that this will set a precedent,” he said. “We don’t have the funding or the manpower to do this for every bear. We are also concerned that if people expect us to go capture these bears and send them off to a sanctuary or a zoo they won’t take the necessary precautions to prevent this from happening in the first place.”

The Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center where the bear will live out the rest of its years has been in operation for 21 years. The nonprofit organization is an accredited wildlife sanctuary and is currently home to five bears, and a number of wild cats.