Neighborhood Awakes to Sounds of Moose Calf Killing


GRIZZLY: Gruesome attack shocks residents as cow attempts to charge,
then leaves baby


Megan Holland / Anchorage Daily News / June 24, 2004


Sheri Boggs woke up around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to the most chilling scream she had ever heard.

She jumped out of bed and ran to the window expecting to see a woman being attacked -- but instead saw a brown bear shredding a moose calf on the pavement of her Eagle River driveway.

"I know that's what bears do," Boggs said. "But they don't do it in your driveway."

Her husband, Trent, ran downstairs before even looking out the window, sure the shrieking was a person who needed his help. "I thought somebody was being killed in the street," he said.

The attack occurred on South Mitkof Loop in the Eaglewood subdivision, a suburban neighborhood of newly built two-story homes, manicured lawns and a Wal-Mart just around the corner. The sight of kids crowding the streets with bicycles is more the norm than wandering bears.

The Boggses weren't the only ones roused by the calf's screams. Their neighbors, just stone throws away, also ran to their windows.

Next door, Gail Robley saw the bear chase the calf across the street to the Boggses' driveway, where it pinned the calf against a Ford Focus and went in for the kill.

That's when Trent opened his front door, about to spring to help whoever needed him. But instead, he saw the bear, less than 20 feet to his left, on its back legs holding the calf and "using its hands to kill the moose," he said. To his right was the mother moose, running up to charge the bear, then scurrying backward. "I freaked out," he said.

He slammed the door, then ran for his gun. He wasn't confident his front door could hold back a grizzly, he said.

"For about half an hour that little baby just whimpered and cried, and it was just heartbreaking," said Robley, who said the sound echoed through the neighborhood in the still of the night.

"It sounded like someone was getting murdered. It was just horrible," said Amanda Gallagher, who lives across the street from the Boggses. "I just can't get that sound out of my head."

The mother moose continued to pace up and down the street but eventually retreated to the woods, neighbors said.

Then the bear dragged the calf across the driveway, knocked over two planters with marigold flowers and brought the calf to the side of the house. It appears the bear ate just the guts, state biologist Rick Sinnott said. The bear probably intended to return later, he said.

Sheri Boggs and other residents believe the adult moose was the same one that gave birth to twin calves in her back yard several weeks ago. The moose and her calves had been in the neighborhood for days, residents said.

"That's probably why the mama moose eventually ran off," Robley speculated. "She had to attend to her other calf."

Once he had settled down, Trent Boggs traded his gun for a video camera, and he and Sheri Boggs let their 11-year-old daughter, Rebecca, watch the feed. It was a good opportunity to teach her about how to behave around bears, Trent Boggs said. But their other daughter, 7-year-old Nikole, was asleep, and they preferred it that way.

In the morning, they washed down the blood, bones, fur, guts and scat in front of their home.

"We didn't want the little one to be afraid," Trent Boggs said.

"There are lots of bears in town, but they tend to be black bears, not grizzlies," said Sinnott, who cleaned up the remains of the calf in the morning, after the bear had retreated to the greenbelt behind the Boggses' home.

Sinnott said the grizzly, estimated at around 3 years old, was probably attracted to the garbage in the residential neighborhood. He thinks it may be the same bear that appeared in the area last fall. "People are basically baiting the neighborhoods," he said.

Homeowners are not supposed to leave garbage out the night before pickup; if they do, they face fines. Last fall, Sinnott found more than a quarter of homes in the Eagle Ridge neighborhood, another neighborhood in the Eagle Loop area, were leaving garbage out. Birdseed is also a problem, he said.

In 1999, the state had to kill a brown bear in the same Eaglewood subdivision. Sinnott has no plans to dispose of this bear. "There's always going to be more bears until we fix the cycle of ignorance," he said.

Residents must start keeping garbage inside, or bears will start eating refuse and lose their fear of people, Sinnott said.

Daily News reporter Megan Holland can be reached at mrholland@adn.com.


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