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After bear cub euthanized, Valdez official buried by storm of criticism

Alaska Dispatch
John Gomes / Alaska Zoo

Nature is cruel and ugly, and when man gets involved it seems any number of people have troubling dealing with these realities.

Enter Valdez animal control officer Mike Lindquist. He picked up a sick and emaciated black bear cub this month and did the humane thing: he put it to sleep. The little bear, which should have been denned up somewhere for the winter with its mother, went quietly and peacefully to the big bear den in the sky, which beat any of the natural ways it could have died.

Now Lindquist is a villian.

A posting of a photo of the cub on Facebook followed by the news that
it had been euthanized sparked "an avalanche of vicious emails
for...Lindquist,'' the Valdez Star reports.

Community leaders in Valdez, a community of about 4,000 on the shores of Prince William Sound south of Anchorage, responded by trying to blame the state for the bear's death.

"Many of the writers and callers assumed city officials have authority
over wildlife matters within the city limits; actually, the Department of
Fish and Game has exclusive jurisdiction over wildlife policy
issues,'' the Star reported. "In other words, city officials in Valdez
do not have the authority to keep, rehabilitate, relocate or treat
wildlife such as bears.

“That’s a state of Alaska call,” (police chief Bill) Comer said. “We’re taking a lot of heat for the state.”

As it turns out, however, the bear's death appears to have been more
of Mother Nature's call. Lindquist and Valdez resident Robert Stumpf,
who first posted the bear's picture on Facebook, both said the animal
was in such poor condition it wouldn't eat.

Stumpf said he watched the bear for more than an hour in his yard, and
while it pawed at some dog food left on his deck, it never ate any.
And dog food just happens to be a favorite food of bears, when they can
get it. Valdez officials said that Lindquist offered the cub both food
and water, but it didn't want either. Experienced wildlife biologists
say the indicates are the animal was well on its way to death from
starvation by the time Lindquist picked it up and put it peacefully to
sleep.

Unfortunately, that isn't going so peacefully for him.