ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Officials say the black bears that tore up a campsite on the Kenai Peninsula Friday were likely the same ones relocated from Anchorage at the governor's request.
A sow and four cubs were spotted at the Porcupine Campground in Hope, which has closed tent camping until further notice, Forest Service manager John Eavis told the Alaska Dispatch News (http://bit.ly/1IDGNdd ).
The bears ravaged an unattended tent with food inside, damaged another tent and were seen "poking around motor homes and other vehicles," Eavis said.
He couldn't confirm the bears were the same ones relocated from Anchorage at Gov. Bill Walker's request. But Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh says the campground's host spotted the tracking collars that had been strapped to the relocated bears.
Fish and Game said in April that it planned to kill the bears that were rummaging for food in unsecured garbage and drawing groups on onlookers in Anchorage's Government Hill neighborhood.
But Walker called Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten to ask if the bears could be spared.
In the end, the animals were outfitted with the tracking collars and taken to the Chickaloon Flats area of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. But they turned up in the small community of Hope in early May.
The bears were spotted again Saturday, swimming in Turnagain Arm six or seven miles away from Hope. Marsh said they were seen by a pilot that the fish and game department sent to find them.
Last week, they were suspected of crashing into a chicken coop there and eating some of the birds.
The bears have been moving in a big circle around Hope over the last few days, said Tim Strebel, who answered the phone at the town's motel and store called Alaska Dacha.
He said they've been seen recently chasing a moose and two calves, running through an RV park and near the Hope Highway.
"Some people think it's entertaining, fun to watch," Strebel said. "Other people are pretty irritated."
Authorities dropped off bear warning posters to hang in the windows at Seaview Cafe and Bar in the center of town, said Renna Martin, who answered the phone there.
Walker said during a news conference Wednesday that he's not sure the bears are the same ones captured in Anchorage.
"Last I'd heard, they were eating dandelions in Hope — someone said they were perhaps strumming guitars," he joked. "Fish and Game will handle this in their own professional way, and I am no longer involved in helping them do their job. They do it very well without me."
Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com