Juneau bears waking from winter slumbers

Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The bears of Juneau are waking from their winter slumbers about the same time that new laws concerning bears and garbage go into effect.

A black bear cub was spotted taking a nap on a warm compost pile at Mile 17.5 Glacier Highway on Wednesday afternoon. Another bear was seen on the side of Mendenhall Loop Road at Nancy Street late Thursday night.

Those sightings were the first reported since four bears were spotted during the week ending Dec. 21.

The baby black bear appeared in the yard of Bill Legere, general manager of KTOO FM and TV.

''It was on its own. It wasn't an infant but very small, about the size of a Labrador retriever. It wandered in and out, and came back Thursday night,'' he said.

The bear wasn't getting into mischief, just napping, Legere said, ''but we tried to shoo him off when we saw him.''

Police said they could not locate the bear seen Thursday night on Mendenhall Loop.

A bear or two gallivanting in March is not uncommon, said Neil Barten, area management biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game.

''Generally there are not lots of animals up until mid-April, but one or two at this time is not unusual,'' Barten said.

The new laws on bears will be explained in a flyer to be mailed soon to residents, said Maria Gladzisewski of the city manager's office.

''That law goes into effect April 18,'' Gladzisewski said. ''Even if it is not associated with a business that serves food, any Dumpster that has been raided by bears in the past must also have a metal lid, or be behind barriers.''

Gladzisewski reminded residents that particularly smelly refuse, such as crab carcasses and fish heads, should be frozen until the morning of pickup.

''The best thing people can do is be cognizant of their garbage,'' said Mark Farmer, former chairman of the city's bear committee.

''Realize that bears are hungry and in the state they are in (when they come out of hibernation), they are not too discriminating,'' he said. ''So keep an eye on your house, your neighbor's garbage and dogs and cats, because bears will eat pets.''

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