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Bear on prowl; residents tasked to tidy up

Posted: July 2, 2013 - 6:49pm

Brown bears searching for food are scrounging garbage cans, snooping in windows and raiding chicken coops in the central Kenai Peninsula.

“We’ve got a ways to go if we want to minimize bears that are living in this community,” said Jeff Selinger, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Kenai area management biologist.

Fish and Game recently received reports of a sow and three cubs in the East and West Poppy Lane area off Kalifornsky Beach Road, a brown bear eating chickens along Scout Lake Loop in Sterling, and a sow and a few cubs raiding garbage and chickens coops off Mackey Lake Road in Soldotna.

Kenai and Soldotna have also had bear problems.

Kenai police fired rubber bullets at a brown bear lingering along the Kenai Spur Highway near Beaver Loop Road about a week ago, and officers spotted a brown bear cub at the Kenai Golf Course a few days ago, Kenai Police Department Lieutenant Dave Ross said. Residents also spotted a black bear at the corner of Redoubt Avenue and First Street.

In Soldotna, residents have reported a brown bear sow with a few cubs rooting Dumpsters and garbage cans between Soldotna Creek Park and Sunrise Avenue.

No residents have reported aggressive bears, however, Selinger said. One woman said a brown bear ran at her in while she was in her car, but the sow never made contact, and its cubs could have been on the other side of the vehicle, he said.

The bears often scrounge at night, he said.

If residents remove all attractants from their properties, the bears will leave, he said. Garbage left out, freezers unlocked or chicken coops unprotected by electrical fencing are easy food sources for the bears, he said.

Fish and Game and Kenai and Soldotna police encourage residents to mitigate bear attractants. Residents should store garbage cans inside, take them to the dump or leave them outside only when they are to be collected. Freezers stored outside should be locked and chicken coops need to be surrounded by electrical fencing. Bird feeders should be taken down.

Negative reinforcement is the key, Selinger said. If they bears find no food or receive an electrical shock when investigating a chicken coop, they will move on, he said.

But, he said, one person in the community can ruin a city’s efforts to thwart bears. “Once they break in it’s too late, because they learn the behavior,” he said.

Kenai implements a strict measure to reduce bear attractants. The VIP Subdivision, Beaver Loop Road and the communities in the south end of the city by Silver Salmon Drive are classified as a “bear problem area,” City Manager Rick Koch said. In those areas residents must store garbage in bear resistant containers, inside away from bears, wait for garbage removal or take their trash to the dump.

“If you are in a bear problem area and you have garbage all over your yard, you’ll get cited,” Koch said.

It is the city’s third year in a row enacting the measure for Beaver Loop Road and the Silver Salmon Drive area, he said. It is the second year for the VIP Subdivision, he said.

Soldotna officials work with Fish and Game to mitigate bear-human interactions.

The other option — aside from ridding properties of bear attractants — is immediately killing the bears, Selinger said. But he prefers the alternative, he said.

Nine bears this year on the Kenai Peninsula have died in defense of life and property killings, he said. Two cubs will also likely die as a result of a sow shooting, he said.

Selinger said killing the bears may be more convenient for property owners, but it won’t solve the problem. If you leave it out — garbage, unlocked freezers, vulnerable chickens — the bears will come, he said.

“The last thing you want to do,” Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik said, “is step out on your porch at night and be face to face with a sow.”

Report in-town bear sightings to Fish and Game at 907-262-9368.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at

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spwright 07/03/13 - 02:03 pm

Guess who just approved of raising Chickens within the city limits. The Wise Leaders of the Kenai City Council.
Now ain't That a Wise Decision SPW

beaverlooper 07/03/13 - 02:48 pm
Yes it is

I have raised chickens for the last 17 years and have never had a problem with bears .Goshawks yes, bears no. I have had bears in my yard and even in my enclosed porch but they never bothered my chickens.
There are going to be bears ,if they get into my chickens it's my fault.

RyanMarquis 07/04/13 - 12:21 pm
Mr. Wright, You are a bit

Mr. Wright,
You are a bit mistaken. There was recently an ordinance before the Council to allow chickens on lots smaller than one acre (where they've been allowed for many years). That ordinance failed, with a lot of comments regarding concerns centered around bears.

BigRedDog 07/05/13 - 05:10 am
My 2 Cud Scare

It was years ago that I heard 2 shotgun blast a couple of blocks away about 10:20pm. The next morning I went out to get my papers and got a gut wrenching scare. As I picked up a paper I heard that very distinctive whoof from 2 two year old brown bear cuds, who looked at me like "You owe me Money!" They were standing 50 yards away on a huge pile of trash they found in my neighbors leantoo garage like storage area. They had pulled the pile 15' wide bye 30' and about a foot thick out of his storage area and spread it out for feeding.
But they were looking at me very nervous like and I knew I couldn't make the house, maybe the skinny spruce but I had no weapon. I untied the belt on my house robe and opened it suddenly getting BIGGER and let out an ugly growling roar. Thank God they bugged out and took of the other way. I was in the house in about 5 seconds and would get the papers later. I called my neighbor but couldn't get through so I called the KPD saying I just had two brown bear cubs in my neighbors trash that were feeding and I scared them off. She told me a Brown Bear sow had been shot the night before a block and a half from my house.
"I think I know where the last place Momma taught these two cubs to get something eat, happened to be right next door!" The lady said she would dispatch an Officer. When the Officer drove by I called and had him turned back a block to the location of the feeding. when he pulled into the neighbors yard I directed him to the bouty. He just erupted what the 'H" and pounded on the front door "All Hands on deck He said." And the whole family was out in PJ's stuffing plastic bags with shredded trash until it was all picked up and the Officer left. Two pickup trucks full of bagged garbage was the total haul. But the cost was much more for the Bear family, as these last years cubs would be in for a very tough road and survival would be very difficult w/o their Mom.
I never heard of a ticket or fine, guess the Bears is the only one it really cost! I think I'll check on that police Report today.

BigRedDog 07/05/13 - 04:18 pm
NO Police report was made

Bet they would have fined me if I had a months worth of trash laying around and a Momma Brownie was shot a block away leaving her tracks all over that pile where I saw the cubs.

beaverlooper 07/09/13 - 12:24 pm

Are you sure it was looking bigger that scared those bears off or was it what was under that robe that put the fear into them?

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