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For the officers of A&E's 'Alaska PD,' dealing with a 1,500 pound bear is all in a day's work

Especially for Mike Sortor, a patrol sergeant for the Kodiak Police Department, it's just a day on the job.

By Adam Janos

Sortor helps protect the City of Kodiak (pop. 5,968) from some 1,700 Kodiak brown bears who live on Kodiak, a small island in the Gulf of Alaska, just off the state's south coast. Sortor's police work on Kodiak—and that of other officers across the northernmost U.S. state—is featured on A&E's new show "Alaska PD," which air Thursdays at 9P.


In Kodiak, brown bears are such a constant threat that Sortor says the police department is familiar with the worst offenders and has names for them.


In Kodiak, brown bears are such a constant threat that Sortor says the police department is familiar with the worst offenders and has names for them.


"Right now, we have three that we're dealing with in town: the little bear, the big bear and the lanky bear," Sortor says.


"The big bear is the biggest concern," he adds. "It's ripping off car doors and stuff. That's kind of the line we draw—once they start intruding on vehicles. When the bear becomes a burglar."

Sortor says that because the big bear is so accustomed to people, his department has a "kill order." But applying lethal force in the middle of town to a top predator isn't easy.


"What if I don't kill the bear right away? What if I miss?" Sortor asks. An injured bear, he says, would be far more dangerous than a healthy one.



Sortor says the department rarely resorts to lethal force, instead directing its focus to "hazing" untoward bears: firing rubber bullets and/or low-power fireworks at the creatures to scare them off.

In the state's interior, Lieutenant Peyton Merideth of the Fairbanks Police Department says megafauna will also impose on city limits…but that it's moose that pose the greatest risk to people.


Aggressive attacks are rare, but moose—which can weigh up to 1,600 lbs. and stand 6 feet tall while still on all fours—can be deadly to encounter even when they aren't attacking, by the sheer force of their enormity.

"They get hit" by cars, Merideth explains. "Especially in the winter: It's dark, so you can't see them. And what'll happen is, the moose are so big that if the moose is hit by a passenger car, it'll take the moose's legs out from under them, and then the moose lands back on the windshield and will crush somebody."


Sortor says that for all the sensational images that animal-on-human violence conjures, it's a "drop in the bucket" for his department in Kodiak.


Watch new episodes of 'Alaska PD' every Thursday night at 9pm EST on A&E!

#AlaskaPD


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