It's spring, which means the bears are back, and are already getting into garbage bins in Eagle River and Anchorage.

Thursday morning in Eagle River, Tanya Jonathan found two cubs had gotten into a trash bin. 

 

The Department of Fish and Game says to start spring cleaning to keep the bears away by taking down bird feeders, cleaning barbecues, storing trash inside and keeping your freezers locked.

Ken Marsh, from Fish and Game, says now is the time bears will be out looking for just about anything.

"We still don't have natural foods out available. That would be your greens ferns, or grasses, or dandelions or clovers, that kind of stuff they like to feed on early in the year so many of them are hanging around their dens for now, maybe taking short trips around," Marsh said. "But they will find human-provided foods like pet food, trash, poultry food, that kind of thing very attractive right now. They're opportunists and they'll take advantage of it."

To help prevent bear problems this summer, biologists suggest the following:

  • Garbage: Store trash inside buildings or in bear-proof containers; keep secured until the day of scheduled pickup. If using a large dumpster with latching lids, it's time to start latching the lid every time after depositing trash. Encourage neighbors to do the same.
  • Electric fences: Properly constructed electric fences can keep bears out of gardens, compost, and away from buildings, chicken coops, and domestic animals. For more information, contact your local department office or read Fish and Game's tips on their website.
  • Barbecues: Clean barbecue grills, especially grease traps, after each use.
  • Pets: Feed pets indoors or clean up excess and spilled food between meals. Store pet food, livestock food, and birdseed indoors or in bear-resistant containers.
  • Bird feeders: Take feeders down April through Oct., remove spilled seeds and store the feeders out of bears' reach.
  • Freezers: Keep freezers locked in a secure building or otherwise out of bears' reach.
  • Gardens: Plant gardens in the open, away from cover and game trails. Only compost raw vegetable matter and turn over compost frequently.

So why do bears like people food so much?

"It's tasty and it has a lot of calories," Marsh said. "Bears are all about consuming as many calories as they can."

Even though bears love it, it's still against the law to feed beers. The law states, "A person may not intentionally feed a moose, deer, elk, bear, wolf, coyote, fox, or wolverine, or negligently leave human food, animal food, or garbage in a manner that attracts these animals." It is also against the law to kill a bear you have attracted by improperly storing human food, animal food or garbage.

There are some hot spots where bears are stirring. Fish and Game has already gotten reports from the Post Road and Government Hill area, Eagle River, Muldoon, South Anchorage and Hillside. 

In South Anchorage, a black bear got into a trash bin and carried a trash bag away into the woods. 

 

Marsh says it's better to clean up early in the spring so bears won't develop bad habits early on.

Fish and Game says the best thing to do if you see a bear hanging out in neighborhoods, in the trash or acting aggressive is to report the encounter online.

 

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