Residents fear Kodiak bears that aren't hibernating
Imagine finding a 900-pound brown bear on your front porch, some people in Kodiak say it’s happening too often. Robert Tucker is one of them.
The 38-year Kodiak resident is organizing others who have concerns about bears that don’t hibernate in winter because they are finding easy meals in town.
“It’s concerning to this group that we have bears in residential neighborhoods,” Tucker said. “They’re not only opening cars, they're breaking into cars. They're getting onto the porches, and they're going through very condensed residential neighborhoods.”
Tucker said two bears in particular are spotted nearly every night, checking out dumpsters and going through trash. He’s worried that someone may get hurt.
“It hasn’t been aggressive yet, but as soon as it gets cornered, that’s my fear, is it’s going to get cornered and something really terrible is going to happen,” he said.
Fish and Game area biologist Nathan Svoboda said the bears are coming into town to feed on trash. And there isn’t a lot to stop them.
The island that is full of bears has few locking dumpsters and no bear-resistant trash cans, called roll carts, for residents.
“One of the things that we're struggling with is the trash issue, specifically roll carts,” said Svoboda. “You know, we have a number of roll carts, I think somewhere around two or 3,000 roll carts on Kodiak Island, none of which are bear-resistant. They're basically just portable feeding containers for bears and they're out at least two or three nights a week.”
Tucker said bear-resistant cans and dumpsters are coming to the island in July, but his group will ask the Borough Assembly to see if they can make that happen sooner. He said his group members will press to make changes so existing laws requiring residents to take proper care of their garbage can be enforced, with penalties attached for those who don’t comply. He urged anyone with bear concerns to attend the next assembly meeting on Feb. 6.
Meanwhile, Svoboda said the short-term solution is to put down the two bears that have caused the most problems. He said the decision was made about three weeks ago in consultation with wildlife troopers and Kodiak police, although, the bears were still roaming Monday night.
“The problems that we run into are the areas that they come into town are pretty highly populated, densely populated areas. So we’ve had difficulty going out and trying to dispatch them,” he said.
Svoboda reminded residents that no matter what happens, Kodiak is bear country and they need to be aware.
“Bears are going to come into town regardless and they're going to continue to do so," he said. "People just need to exercise caution and be bear aware. Whether it’s the middle of the winter, whether they are taking their trash out or whether they are simply hiking down the trails. That’s just the reality of living in Alaska, particularly Kodiak Island.”
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