Game department plans Anchorage bear awareness campaign

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- State game officials will begin a media blitz next month urging Anchorage residents to help keep bears wild and alive -- or face a $100 fine.

The campaign will encourage residents to keep garbage away from bears and stow bird feeders until fall to so bears don't seek food on decks and in driveways.

Since 1995, at least 99 bears have been shot in the city after they became too bold seeking food from humans. Last year, only six were shot.

Bear experts credit the decline to broader awareness about correct handling of potential bear food. But with tighter regulations that penalize people for negligence if bears eat food left within reach, the Anchorage Bear Committee decided it would launch an educational campaign during the city's annual cleanup week and keep it going all summer long.

''We didn't write any tickets last year, but we're planning on writing them this year,'' said Jesse Coltrane, assistant management biologist for Anchorage with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. ''We could have written a lot of them'' but wanted to let people get used to the law.

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