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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Wednesday, September 05, 2001

Trashy humans not only harm wildlife, they also endanger people

The putrid odor slammed into my nose as I was riding my horse less than a half mile from my house along the power line behind Strawberry Road. I recognized it immediately and both anger and fear rose. Some idiot had dumped their salmon carcasses on the trail, just about 40 feet from the road.

It's a common odor here on the central Kenai Peninsula, but should be associated with the dump, not the wilderness.

Traveling through the odor wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the accompanying danger: The area was now littered with bear dung and prints.

Determined not to let trashy people of Alaska ruin my horse ride, I continued through the dump zone and luckily didn't see a bear. I visited the site the next day, and the dozens of carcasses had been devoured, leaving only the odor and evidence of extreme bear activity.

This occurred the end of July, and coincided with the dipnetting season.

Unfortunately, it continued through the month of August, although I do not know where these people were getting their dozens of salmon. Then it included clams. Now, it includes a moose carcass.

For nearly a month and a half now, the area has been a smorgasbord for bears. Of course, these bears are now dump bears. They want human food. When the smorgasbord disappears, they come to the nearby houses, looking for food.

Right down the road are two horses and one foal which was born just this spring. I have one horse. Over the hill are two more horses. The powerline is a popular trail for horses, joggers and walkers.

One woman who walks her dogs every day said she no longer can walk along the road because of the bears. A family that gives trail rides reported that the trail the bears use to drag off the salmon carcasses intersects their trail for rides. Another family with horses walked out one morning to be greeted by a mother brown bear with two cubs. That same mother has visited my house, tearing apart garbage which now is being kept securely inside the garage.

I like bears. When I moved to this area, I knew being on the fringe of the wilderness would probably put me in contact with bears. I've been horseback riding in bear country for 10 years. I respect them, they respect humans, and we keep each other at a distance.

Because of human stupidity, that formula has now changed. I respect bears, but they no longer respect humans. They see humans as a food source. As a consequence, I am a virtual prisoner of my house, and they are as good as dead.

Strawberry Road is not the only trashed area. Gaswell Extended offers even a greater variety for bears, as those human trashers dump household garbage in addition to fish and moose carcasses. That requires horseback riders and joggers to pick through broken glass in addition to watch for roaming bears.

My guess is that the majority of the side roads have areas trashed by jerks.

If we residents had to pay every time we hauled garbage to the local dump, I might understand the inclination to haul the mess to the side roads. But our dump is supported by tax dollars. There is no excuse.

I have no idea who the offenders are. If and when I find out, they will be reported. There is a fine for dumping trash, and I will file charges.

If anyone is dumping out of ignorance of the consequences to the local residents, I would hope they would read this letter and stop. If they are truly jerks, then it is up to the rest of us residents to begin policing these side roads. Maybe a local priority would include giving a

Crime Stoppers-type reward for people who report other people trashing an area. There is no excuse for these types of human beings.

Polly Crawford

Kenai



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