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Bear escapes enclosure at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

(Portage, AK) The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is assisting the Alaska Department of Fish & Game in searching for a two-year-old bear that escaped from its enclosure Tuesday. The female brown bear, named Shaguyik, has been in the care of AWCC since it was rescued as an orphan in 2010.

“We had our electric fence turned off for maintenance and during that time something spooked Shaguyik,” said Mike Miller, the executive director of AWCC. “Unfortunately, this year’s heavy snow load required us to fix our electric fence and that’s when the incident occurred. Our priority now is to work closely with Fish and Game to locate the bear and safely return it to captivity.”

Miller said this is the first time an animal had escaped from the facility. “Our operating procedures are rigorous and safety for our staff and animals is always our top priority.”

Shaguyik is blond and weighs about 300-pounds. She was spayed in November, 2011, but is not collared and has no identifying tags, though she is micro-chipped. She was last seen in the mountains between Placer and Portage Valleys. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game and AWCC staff have been searching the area by air and ground since last Tuesday but have not located the bear. Bears can travel several miles in a single day, and the public is advised to be aware of the situation and avoid any encounters with Shaguyik.

“Even though Shaguyik has been in captivity most of her life, the public should treat this bear with extreme caution,” Miller said. “Because of its habituation, Shaguyik may not respond the same as wild bears and avoid human interaction. If someone sees the bear, the best thing to do is keep your distance and contact the authorities.”

Anyone who sights a bear in the Portage Valley area should call the ADF&G at 907-267-2811, AWCC at 907-301-7942 or State Troopers at 911.

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