Snare Removed From Bear in Katmai Park

Aug 5, 2014

Divot (right) with one of her cubs.
Credit Katmai National Park and Preserve

One of the purposes of national parks is to ensure that animals have a place where they can live and roam freely.  Part of that involves not being hunted or encroached upon by humans, but that wasn’t the case for a bear at an Alaska National Park.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

A female brown bear was found with a snare around her neck at Katmai National Park and Preserve last week.  The bear, known as Divot, normally lives around the Brooks Camp area of the park.  Troy Harmon is Katmai’s chief of management and science.  He says Divot is considered a sub-adult bear.

“It’s a really obvious timeframe.  They’re a small bear and over the next few years, they grow into adulthood.  She’s raised cubs at Brooks Camp before.  We have one cub of hers that had recognizable offspring that we were actually able to track from cub into its adult phase.  So there’s a generational familiarity with her.  We have a number of employees that have seen her repeatedly for a number of years.”

Divot was seen repeatedly around Brooks Camp raising cubs without any problems.  However, Harmon says she was spotted with the snare on July 28th.

“She returned to Brooks at that time with one cub and this snare around her neck, and it was fairly obvious because the snare was made of some sort of cable and it was hanging down stiff enough that it swings out has this frayed end to it. Her fur, from the photographs, was dry, but it was wet and matting together at the base of her neck where the bottom of the snare was coming off, so it looked like she had some sort of a weeping wound.”

The park staff didn’t have sufficient equipment to deal with this kind of wounded animal, so they enlisted the help of National Park Service biologist Grant Hilderbrand.  He and his team flew in on June 30th, and found Divot near the park’s Dumpling Creek.  They tranquilized her with a dart gun, and were careful to make sure that when she collapsed, she didn’t fall into the stream and drown.  Harmon says treatment went well.

“(The) snare had cut into her flesh on the order of an inch, but it hadn’t cut into anything vital, mostly dermal and fat layer damage.  They were able to remove it successfully. They cleaned the wound out really good with Betadine, which I’m sure, if she was awake, would have really, really hurt, so she might not know that we saved her a little additional pain right there.”

After cleaning the wound, the group tattooed a small number in Divot’s lip to mark that she had been handled. Then they waited for four hours to see her wake up from the tranquilizer, and saw a cub go with her.  The snare was submitted to local law enforcement as evidence, since bear trapping is illegal within Katmai National Park.  There is still no lead on who set the trap, but as of August 2nd, Divot is once again at Brooks Camp.