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Bears quiet this spring: Fish and Game reports very few encounters

Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

By this time last year there already had been a mauling and a bear shot in defense of life and property.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
A yearling brown bear scavenges through the Russian River Ferry parking lot Monday in front of Shannon Meredith, Mark McCoy and Dominic Bauer. The animal stopped to pick up each piece of trash it encountered.

So far this season there have been few negative interactions between bears and people on the Kenai Peninsula.

"It's been very quiet, and we hope it stays that way," said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna.

So far, only one brown bear has been killed, and this animal was taken legally as part of the spring brown bear hunt.

"It was a small female, without cubs, harvested in Box Canyon, just outside of Seward on May 4," Selinger said.

However, beyond this bear, few bruins have found their way into the spotting scope of a rifle, and Selinger said to date, reports of bear activity have been moderate.

"We're still getting reports of a bear hanging around the Russian River area, which a lot of people have seen," he said.

A domestic goat was also taken by a bear in Cohoe Loop area of Kasilof, according to Selinger, and a bear missing an appendage has been seen in the area, but it is unclear if that bruin is the culprit.

"There have been reports of a three-legged bear around Cohoe Loop. It's the same one that's been there for about three years now. We don't know how it was injured, but it's still getting around," Selinger said.

As to the reason there have been so few negative interactions with bears, Selinger said he hopes it is the result of an active educational campaign that for several years has encouraged homeowners to minimize attractants, and neighbors to report those who don't keep their areas clean.

"Hopefully, it's been quiet because the programs are paying dividends. We haven't had many calls about people leaving out attractants, and the one call we did receive of someone leaving out garbage at a residence just outside Soldotna, when we responded, they cleaned it up," he said.

Selinger said he hopes this current pattern is one that will continue as summer progresses.

"Even if we don't hear about negative interactions, we should keep up with being careful and taking appropriate precautions to keep it that way. The best way to have a good year is to stay focused throughout the year, and continue to minimize attractants," he said.

There are many ways to minimize attractants. These include keeping garbage in bear-resistant containers and making frequent trips to the dump to haul it off. Chest freezers full of fish, moose and other food items should be secured with ratchet straps or locking latches, he said.

Native birds should be provided only with a bird bath, not seed or suet in summer, and any winter leftovers should be thoroughly cleaned. Residents should also make sure beehives and livestock -- such as pigs, goats, chickens and rabbits -- are protected with three to five strands of electric fencing, and ensure that livestock and pet feed is indoors or stored in a secure place, he said.

For more information on ways to minimize attractants, contact Fish and Game at 262-9368.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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