Members of the Kenai Brown Bear Committee prepares a public awareness campaign aimed at keeping bears wild and our neighbors safe.
With bears beginning to stir from their dens throughout Alaska, the Kenai Brown Bear Committee (KBBC) is launching a campaign designed to decrease the number of bears killed in defense life or property through public awareness. “Our committee’s main mission is to raise awareness and to let people know that there are some primary attractants out there that can lead to some bad encounters with bears,” says committee member John Czarnezki, Kenai Peninsula Borough resource planner. The KBBC is an offshoot of a recent public planning process that resulted in the Kenai Peninsula Brown Bear Conservation Strategy. The KBBC was founded in 2004 and represents interests as diverse as tourism, hunting, fishing, conservation, and government agencies. According to Czarnezki it’s not just rural residents that need to be concerned, “Bears live across the entire Peninsula, so it’s important that everyone pay attention and take precautions to keep those easy meals unavailable especially right now as the bears start becoming active and are coming out of hibernation hungry.”
Alaska Department of Fish & Game data shows that bears killed in defense of life or property(DLP) have doubled over the past decade on the Kenai Peninsula. “DLPs are a significant concern that can only be addressed through preventative measures taken by Kenai Peninsula communities, residents, and visitors,” says Jeff Selinger, ADF&G area biologist and KBBC member. Last year there were fewer DLP’s than the year before and the KBBC hopes to continue that trend this year by informing residents and visitors on ways to properly handle food items that attract bears. The campaign focuses on five primary bear attractants: garbage, bird seed, pet food, livestock and fish carcasses. It encourages responsible ways of handling these items in our local community. The committee suggests taking down bird feeders around the first of April and cleaning up spilled bird seed from around the feeder, storing garbage indoors until the morning of pick-up or in bear resistant containers and as fish season arrives, processing fish before leaving the water so you don’t attract bears into your neighborhood. Pet food should also be kept in doors and leftovers brought inside when the pet is finished eating. The committee is also advocating electric fencing to help keep bears out of compost piles, corrals, chicken coops, beehives, rabbit hutches and other outdoor attractants.
For more information about the activities of the KBBC and Brown Bear Awareness Kick-Off Week contact Cindi Jacobson, group coordinator, at 267-2301, or go to www.alaskabears.alaska.gov
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