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'Gold Rush: Alaska' TV Miners Shouldn't Have Killed Bear, Says State

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BEAR SHOT
AP File

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In one of the first episodes of the "Gold Rush: Alaska" Discovery Channel series, miners hoping to strike gold kill a bear near their camp.

The killing was unwarranted, even though the shooter had a license and a non-resident black-bear tag, the state Department of Natural Resources said.

In a letter to the mining company, the agency said the bear did not appear to be the same one that entered the camp earlier, and it was not in camp when it was killed, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.

No one was cited for the May 2010 shooting at the mining claim in southeast Alaska, about 40 miles north of Haines, but the miners were asked to act with more restraint and to properly store food so it does not attract bears.

Discovery spokeswoman Katherine Nelson said the cable channel relies on its production companies to ensure compliance with all permits and regulations.

"We are aware that the necessary permit was obtained," she said in an e-mail.

No one was available Friday at the production company, London-based Raw Television, to comment to The Associated Press.

More than 2 million viewers learned in the episode's debut that unattended graham crackers might have been to blame for luring the animal into the combination mining claim and reality TV set before the miners grabbed their guns.

"That bear's not going to get in between my son and I," Greg Remsburg, a star of the show, said as he pumped a shell into the chamber of his rifle. "That I guarantee ya."

Sure enough, a bear is killed, and the shooter is identified on the show as miner Mike Halstead.

"The team has made the camp secure," the narrator concludes.

However, no one had to shoot the bear to save a life or protect property at the mining claim on Porcupine Creek, the state Department of Natural Resources concluded.

"The bear that was shot did not appear to be the same bear that entered your camp, and was not in camp when it was killed," geologist Bill Cole wrote in the Jan. 5 letter to head miner Todd Hoffman.

The series chronicles the work of six unemployed people who try to get rich in Alaska in the face of the national economic meltdown. Their ability to escape danger, including wildlife, is a repeating theme.

Many Daily News readers panned the gold-mining show as misleading and sensationalized.

"As they had already acquired a tag to shoot a bear, it appears to have been a phony confrontation designed to make the TV show more interesting," Fairbanks Daily News-Miner columnist Dermot Cole wrote. He is not related to the state geologist.

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Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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