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Bear issue

Kenai subdivision gets 'bear problem area' designation

Posted: August 30, 2011 - 8:00am  |  Updated: August 30, 2011 - 8:34am

Effective Aug. 29, Kenai’s VIP subdivision is officially a “bear problem area.”

That means residents in the subdivision near Kalifornsky Beach Road need to take extra precautions to keep bear attractants where bears can’t get to them. The city can provide a list of approved bear-resistant containers; some are available at Home Depot, City Manager Rick Koch said. Bear-resistant Dumpsters are available through local solid waste carriers, too.

Koch said bear encounters have been on the rise in that neighborhood, leading to the problem designation.

“We’ve had a number of them in the last two weeks and they seem to be escalating,” Koch said.

One of the biggest problems in the area are overflowing Dumpsters at multi-family dwellings, Koch said.

City police have had to fire rubber bullets on a regular basis, in part because a few property owners have had significant bear attractants out in the open, Koch said.

Sgt. Ben Langham, from the Kenai Police Department, said problems in that neighborhood began in mid-July. The department sent an officer to check out a report of a sow and two cubs. The sow attacked the patrol car and chased it about 70 yards after the officer got back in and drove away, Langham said.

Later that day, the police department went back to the area planning to haze the bears.

“The sow charged one of the officers,” Langham said.

Police shot the sow and both cubs.

More recently, two brown bear cubs have been wandering through the neighborhood since about Aug. 12. The bears root through trash, fish smokers, bird feeders and other attractants, Langham said.

Those reports prompted Koch to make the bear designation. Kenai’s city code tasks the city manager with determining when an area is a “bear problem area,” but Koch said the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is generally supportive of such action.

The bear problem designation in VIP isn’t going away anytime soon.

Koch said it will likely last for the remainder of the summer.

“It’s definitely through to the winter...” he said.

Koch said the city is available to help residents who can’t eliminate bear attractants on their own.

“Our goal is not to write tickets,” he said. “Our goal is to get folks to comply and get bears not to be attracted.”

The city can help clean up yards for those that are unable to comply on their own, Koch said.

VIP isn’t the only neighborhood with issues.

Last summer, the Strawberry Road-Beaver Creek area was designated a problem area. Asking residents to reduce attractants in that area has prevented more bear problems, Koch said.

“It’s been pretty successful,” he said. “Bears are still moving through, but they’re not stopping.”

This winter, he hopes the city will consider implementing the bear measures city-wide, rather than on a problem-by-problem basis.

The details of a city-wide extension of bear protection measures still have to be worked out. Koch said the most difficult part of such an effort might be the cost, but he thought the city could work around that.

It wouldn’t be a mandate for expensive trash cans so much as for behavior modification. Individuals could get the trash cans or store garbage in the garage or visit the solid waste transfer site more frequently, Koch said.

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AKMaineIac 08/30/11 - 09:54 am
When bears don't fear humans...

What do you think happens when bears begin to associate humans with food, and lose their fear of them? Bears begin to treat humans like bears, because they're incapable of being human. They communicate with humans like humans were bears, but humans don't understand. The bear figures the human does care or isn't listening, and continues to try to communicate like the human was a bear. Eventually the fur and skin flies... or the bear gives up and walks away.

Haze them, really hard. The ones that don't give up will have to end up a rug on someone's wall.

Put your rubbish in a container the bear can't get into, where the bear can't get to it. Use caution and good sense. And if all that fails, kill the bear so we don't have to read about the bear killing you.

EliseLowery 08/30/11 - 06:58 pm
Bears in VIP

I live in VIP and as I well am aware, I must always be prepared for a visitor. Being just a block away from the river I am more so on the watch. Though I have no children that ride their bikes up and down a street to enjoy a beautiful summer day, and I don;t have a dog that runs the neighborhood. But for those adults who do not consider the safety of themselves as well as others in their neighborhood by not listening to all the do's and don'ts. Shame on you. Personally I feel it should be a large fine. You're putting lives at risk.

Allen 08/30/11 - 07:04 pm
Designating the whole city is overkill

The City Manager's idea is overkill, and I hope it gets vetoed by the City Council, our elected officials. We don't have bear problems in my neighborhood so don't torture my family with complicated new regulations. Deal with the neighborhood where there are problems.

"One of the biggest problems in the area are overflowing Dumpsters at multi-family dwellings Koch said." Well, deal with those landlords. Don't punish everyone for the actions of a few.

vipalaska 08/31/11 - 11:46 am
Bear Problem is Overkill

I agree with Allen. Don't go overboard with regulations, fines and penalties. Just deal with the offenders. Don't make everyone pay the price for a few careless landlords? Are chickens an attractive target for hungry bears? There are chickens in the neighborhood. Has anyone talked to this homeowner?

A better approach would be to start a public education plan and address the owners and their attractants before mandating bear resistant cans in the entire neighborhood.

spwright 09/06/11 - 04:14 pm
Taser a Grizzly Bear 9/6/11

Tue. 9/6/11 Well since a Anchorage Police Officer was successful using a electric Taser on a Moose last Winter.

I hear that Ak Fish & Game is looking for Volunteers to use a
Taser on a 1000 lb [filtered word] Off Grizzly Bear.

Step Right Up & Volunteer to be the 1st to use a Taser on a Grizzly Bear ! That should be a REAL Alaskan Adventure !

Why they would be replaying that on You Tube & World's Dumbest for months to come !

SPW in Sloooooooowdotna

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