Fact Check

Electrocuted Bear

Fauxtography: Photographs purportedly show a brown bear that was electrocuted when it chewed through a power line.

Published Feb. 25, 2007


Claim:   Photographs show a brown bear that was electrocuted when it chewed through a power line.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2007]

This is what a Sprint tech found when he went to a cell site to check on a problem with the line.



Origins:   The 600-pound brown bear pictured above met its unfortunate demise on 10 August 2006, when it tore open a utility box and bit into a live electrical wire in Alaska's Kincaid Park. The ursine's accidental death was discovered not by the technician pictured, but by a young girl out riding her bicycle on one of the park's trails:

A child discovered the electrocuted bear while riding her bicycle on the Sisson Loop trail, a dirt path in the northern part of the park, said Robert Hughes, recreation supervisor at Kincaid. The bear was 50 yards from the popular Coastal Trail, traveled by hundreds of pedestrians, bicyclists and others every day.

The bear found at Kincaid was a healthy adult male that had made its way to the park either by passing through the residential areas near the park, by coming up from Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge or by swimming across Cook Inlet, Sinnott speculated.

Sinnott estimated the bear to weigh more than 600 pounds: "He's one of the bigger brown bears I've seen in Anchorage."

He said he would not likely be able to age the animal because its teeth were burned from the electrocution.

[T]he 7-foot animal, stiff in death, lay on its side. The bear still had the wire in its mouth, its tongue and teeth burned and blackened. A patch of grass under the left foot was singed. The smell of scorched meat hung in the air.

The bear found the two wires — about the thickness of vacuum cords — by first ripping off a 3-foot high protective plastic box. It appeared that almost instantly when the bear bit into the wire, it was electrocuted. "It didn't thrash much, it was pretty quick," Sinnott said.

The bear bit into 5,000 volts of energy, according to a Chugach Electric Association spokesman Phil Steyer, who said the apparatus did not belong to the company but likely to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the owner of the land where the bear was found.

Last updated:   8 April 2015


    Holland, Megan.   "Grizzlies Bite Off Too Much."

    Anchorage Daily News.   11 August 2006.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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