JUNEAU (AP) Fewer bears are getting into people's garbage in Juneau this year, a decline perhaps due in part to bears being removed or killed last year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Fish and Game moved 13 bears from the Juneau area last year and killed another five. In addition, the Juneau Police Department killed two urban bears, and homeowners in Juneau killed another three.
Combined with about 10 bears hit by cars, Fish and Game biologist Neil Barten said bear removal and killings were at a 20-year high.
''When you have that many bears being removed from town, that is going to reduce the bear incidence,'' he said.
This year Fish and Game has received only about 20 calls reporting urban bears, fewer than in recent years, Barten said.
The police department has received 46 calls this year reporting urban bears.
Community Service Officer Bob Dilley agreed there has not been much bear activity this year. Dilley enforces the city's garbage ordinance that was passed in 2001. It requires citizens to put garbage cans out no earlier than 4 a.m. on the day of pickup, cover cans containing food waste and label garbage cans with the owner's address. Garbage also must be stored for the rest of the week in a garage or bear-resistant enclosure.
Dumpsters in areas of the city that have been designated as ''bear problem areas'' also must be fitted with metal lids.
Dilley said he has issued fewer than 50 tickets, which carry a $50 fine, this year to people who are not in compliance with the ordinance. That's down from about 100 tickets issued by this time last year.
''I think some people are getting the message,'' Dilley said. ''But I think there are some people out there that don't know what they should be doing or just aren't doing it.''
The city extended the boundaries for bear problem areas in March. Maps of new bear problem areas can be found at www.juneau.org/bears.
Barten said similar declines in bear sightings occurred in 1988 and 1992 after a larger number of bears was removed from the area.
Although having more than 30 bears moved or killed from the area last year is ''not a good thing'' for the population, Barten said the number of bruins would rebound naturally.
He said only one bear has been killed this year. State troopers were called to the Shrine of St. Therese last Tuesday where they found a wounded brown bear that appeared to have been hit by a car.
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