Bears in trash have become a common sight throughout the Municipality of Anchorage this year. This summer alone, four bears have been killed for getting into garbage or human food.

"The whole city needs to be aware," said Assemblyman John Weddleton, who represents South Anchorage -- including the Glen Alps area, where a black bear was killed after eating food out of a vehicle earlier this month. 

Weddleton says he's meeting with homeowners on the topic on August 2. 

"I think the main thing is educate people, and say, you gotta seal your trash, protect your trash. Don't put your trash out the night before and get bear-proof cans," Weddleton said. "We do have a city rule that says you can't put it out before the day of pick-up. So, you technically could put it out at midnight, which is still a problem if the trash is picked up earlier. Parts of the hillside are supposed to be picked up after 8 o'clock to help people get their trash out before the trash man comes. We may extend that substantially around the city and that can be helpful."

Anchorage isn't the only community with a problem. The City and Borough of Juneau has long struggled with bears getting into garbage, and over the last decade or so, has made some significant changes to its ordinances. The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game has praised a few of them, including:

  • The City's investment in bear-proof containers around town
  • The supplying of commercial vendors with bear-proof dumpsters
  • City efforts to raise awareness about responsible trash management
  • The City's hiring of dedicated staff to enforce ordinances

When asked whether Anchorage should follow suit, Weddleton responded: "I think they're following us."

"I think there is some enforcement," Weddleton said. "But their typical thing, they'll go and do a warning first. And say, 'hey you've got to pick it up.' But they can fine, first offense, $50 to $200 and then the second offense, I think can go up to $600, so it can be significant. And I think you'll see more."

The Anchorage Assembly has scheduled a work session on the topic for August 10 at 1 p.m. at City Hall. 

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