Fish waste fiasco: Bird Ridge trailhead remains closed
The main trailhead for Bird Ridge is still shut down, two days after someone illegally dumped 300 pounds of fish waste in the parking lot. Chugach State Park rangers say that was like ringing the dinner bell for every bear in the area.
Small pieces of flesh and bone are all that’s left of a major mess in the corner of the Bird Ridge parking lot. Chief Ranger Kurt Hensel spent more than an hour cleaning up that mess Tuesday morning.
“It took me about ten 50-gallon trash bags to load the carcasses in,” he said. “It was disgusting. That’s why I didn’t take any pictures, but yeah, I went through several sets of latex gloves.”
On Thursday, the stench from the pile of halibut, snapper and salmon is still strong. That’s why the parking lot remains closed to hikers. Ranger Tom Crockett inspected the area to see if it was safe to open.
“I think I’m going to leave this closed for another day or so,” he said. “It’s just strong enough of an odor that it will definitely attack bears and the last thing you want to do it put bears and humans in the same pocket.”
Crockett says evidence of game trails indicates bears have already checked out the dump site. After a deadly mauling on Bird Ridge earlier this summer, he doesn’t want to risk another.
“Not, what’s the worst possible outcome, what’s the worst likely outcome and those are things we have to think of,” said Crockett.
“That could have potentially been a really bad situation and it’s really disheartening to have that happen in an area where we did have the fatality not too long ago,” said Hensel.
The fishermen we spoke to on Bird Creek, a short distance away, are mindful of where they put their waste. Visiting from Iowa, Tate DeGraff says he also know where not to put it, like the trailhead.
“I think the person that did it is an idiot and that’s just asking for someone to get hurt,” he said. “It gives fishermen a bad name.”
DeGraff is throwing his waste in the creek and hopes others will do the same. The Rangers say if throwing your waste into the water isn’t an option, take it to the landfill.
“There’s many safer options out there to dump your fish and animal waste. At a parking lot trailhead? It’s just ridiculous,” said Hensel.
The Bird Ridge trail remains open. It’s just the main parking lot Rangers don’t want anybody using. You can access the trail about a half mile south the Seward Highway at Bird Creek.