Don't feed the wildlife


Posted: Friday, April 02, 2004

While the temperatures still feel too chilly for spring, it's not too early to start thinking about the return of a warmer season.

It's the time of year when bears start emerging from their dens and they will be hungry. People can do a lot to prevent unpleasant and dangerous encounters with bears by being responsible with their property.

"Keeping bears away from human food is perhaps the most important thing homeowners, campers and hunters can do to prevent conflicts and confrontations between bears and people," warns the National Audubon Society publication "Living in Harmony with Bears."

Bears can be attracted to human neighborhoods by things like improperly stored garbage, dog food, bird seed and suet. Domestic animals also can draw bears and should be kept where they are safe. Barbecues can lure bears to human neighborhoods. That danger can be reduced by storing barbecues in protected places and burning off grease after each use.

Storing garbage in bear-proof containers and not putting it out until just before the scheduled pickup also cuts the risk of dangerous encounters with bears.

Experts at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game warn that it is against the law to intentionally feed bears or negligently leave out human food, animal food or trash that attracts them. It also is against the law to kill a bear attracted by improperly stored food or trash.

One of the unique things about living on the Kenai Peninsula is that humans share their space with wild creatures, including bears. In order to ensure the peninsula remains attractive for humans and wildlife, people must take the lead and make sure they have no bad habits that endanger their wild neighbors.

As the experts at Fish and Game like to say: It's far easier for humans to modify their behavior than it is to modify the animals' behavior.

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