Police say they shot and killed a bear cub that was hit by a car as it tried to cross Vanderbilt Hill Road Wednesday morning.

The bear was still alive when police arrived on scene a little after 6:34 a.m. when the call came in, but it was “gravely injured,” said Lt. David Campbell, a spokesman for the Juneau Police Department.

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“If an animal is suffering, and it’s a wild animal, then in order to ease the suffering of the animal we’ll put it down,” Campbell said in a phone interview.

The bear was killed at about 7 a.m. An official from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game recovered the bear’s body a few minutes later.

It was not immediately known what type of vehicle hit the bear, or the cause of the accident. The crash was reported to police by the person driving the vehicle, and the motorist’s identity was not released.

Neil Barten, a Fish and Game Wildlife Management Coordinator who retrieved the bear’s body, said JPD did the right thing by killing the bear by gunshot.

Barten speculated the bear had broken its back or crushed its pelvis because it was unable to walk.

The poor thing was on the road, and it was trying to crawl,” he said.

Barten said it was a male black bear cub that was brownish in colour. He estimated it weighed 75 pounds and was less than a year old.

Fish and Game has received reports that a female black bear and her three cubs — two of which were black and one that was brown — have been in the area.

Barten speculated that the brown cub was straggling behind while following its mother and siblings crossing the street when it was hit by the car.

As Barten was loading the cub’s remains into the back of his pickup truck, he said the mother and her two remaining cubs re-crossed the street and scurried back toward the hillside above Twin Lakes.

“It’s just kind of unfortunate because they were getting so close to getting to bed for the winter,” Barton said, adding that bear sightings in town will drop off in the next two weeks as the bears begin to hibernate.

Barten said about four to five bears are hit on the road each year in Juneau.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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