Committee proposes bear rules for Juneau

Posted: Friday, January 12, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A city committee charged with reining in Juneau's garbage bear problem recommends making bird feeders illegal, garbage pickup garbage pickup compulsory and bear-resistant garbage containers mandatory in some cases.

The panel also called for establishing a bear-problem hot line and suggested the urban bear be adopted as the symbol of Juneau. Juneau police shot at least five bears this year.

The committee named by Mayor Sally Smith includes representatives from the Department of Fish and Game, the city's environmental zoning office, the Juneau Police Department and Arrow Refuse, a local garbage company.

The panel is led by former mayoral candidate Mark Farmer, a photojournalist who threw his support to Smith in October's election in return for her promise to attack the bear problem.

''We adopted everything except putting garbage offenders names in the newspaper,'' said Farmer.

The committee will eventually suggest a broad ordinance that rewrites existing measures dealing with garbage pickup, bear-resistant containers and related matters, Farmer said. The Juneau Assembly would have to approve those changes.

The ban on bird feeders would exclude run from April 1 to Nov. 1, when birdseed can draw bears into residential neighborhoods.

Mandatory garbage pickup would be a major part of the new program, Farmer said, along with a requirement that garbage cans and lids identify their owners.

That way, the police could put a citation on the can, much as they do on a car, Farmer said.

Police Chief Mel Personett has expressed concern that his resources have been stretched thin by responding to bear sightings.

''The police department is not in the business of watching bears eat garbage,'' Personett said. ''I'm going to be hard-pressed to take patrol officers and retask them to trash patrol.''

Education to reduce contact between humans and bears will be an important part of the program, Farmer said.

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