- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - Authorities are warning Sitka residents to be on alert after numerous bear encounters around the city, including one involving a bicyclist who was chased by a bear down a bike path.

Police have recently received several calls about problem bears, and they think it may just be one animal causing all the fuss. Reports have varied from a bear getting into a garbage container to one breaking into a parked pizza delivery car, The Sitka Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/2cP2GuF).

“This bear has been giving our community a lot of trouble,” said Sitka police Lt. Lance Ewers. “It’s becoming more and more comfortable enforcing its will wherever it goes.”

One caller on Monday told police he saw a bear chasing a bicyclist on a path bordering Sitka National Historic Park. He said he drove his pickup truck across the path to cut the bear off and the animal eventually ran off into the woods.

The cyclist, Mike Litman, routinely rides his bike to work in the morning and said he hadn’t known at the time there had been a bear behind him.

“Everybody knew but me,” Litman said. “A certain part of me wants to know what would have happened.”

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officers have been out patrolling this week in search of the bear, but finding him could be a challenge.

“He’s staying a step ahead of us,” said Steve Bethune, area management biologist for the department.

The bear, which reportedly prevented people from getting into their cars on one occasion and was also spotted on a front porch, has become more of a safety concern. Authorities plan to euthanize it when they find it, Berthune said.

Wildlife officers and police are urging the public to be cautious and keep their trash out of the bear’s reach.

“People need to be really conscientious about their garbage,” Berthune said. “If he continues to be rewarded, he’s going to stick around. It’s frustrating to see people’s trash strewn all over. That’s a problem.”

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Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, https://www.sitkasentinel.com/

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