Thursday, May 23, 2013
Trash Attracts Bears And Hefty Fines
Garbage draws bears from the woods into your backyards
ANCHORAGE—A Muldoon neighborhood has been the scene of two bear shootings in recent weeks and biologists say that points to a people problem; specifically, a problem with people’s trash.
It’s an East Anchorage neighborhood that butts up against the military base where bears live in the dense woods. Fish and Game biologist Jessy Coltrane said people’s unsecured garbage lures bears from the woods and into the neighborhood.
“I’m always surprised,” Coltrane said. “I'll come to people's houses where there will be a swing set and a tricycle sitting next to their four overflowing garbage cans and I think, ‘Are you worried about your kids?’ They are baiting the bear right up to their yard and then wondering why a bear is on the lawn.”
Coltrane said overflowing trash cans can get you a fine and so can trash that is strewn about. It could be as high as 300 dollars. She said it is also illegal to put out trash before your actual pick-up day, even if it’s just the night before.
“If you don’t put it out until the morning of pick-up, the trash is out for a shorter amount of time,” Coltrane said. “It’s not left out at night when the bears are typically more active and have hours to get into it.”
Another option is to secure your trash in a bear-proof can. They are available for a low monthly rental fee from Alaska Waste. But Coltrane said it doesn’t work to deter bears unless every neighbor does their part.
“Everyone on the neighborhood has to take personal responsibility for their own trash and their own property for this to work,” Coltrane said. “And that's the hard part getting everyone to recognize that and wanting to make that change.”
Coltrane said people can report neighbors who consistently have messy garbage by calling the municipal code enforcement officer. If you actually see a bear in a trash, Coltrane said she should be contacted at Fish and Game at 240-9194.