It's still time to be bear aware

Posted: Friday, November 05, 2010

If you think it's hibernation time for bears, think again.

The city of Kenai has been receiving numerous calls on a juvenile brown bear on Beaver Loop Road.

"There are bear tracks all over in the snow leading up to garbage cans and houses," said Kenai Police Lt. David Ross, in the Thompson Park and Dolchok Lane areas.

He said the calls to the police department regarding the 2- to 3-year-old bear have picked up within the last week.

And there were "three of four calls last night," Ross said Thursday.

He said that this year's weather has allowed bears to be out later than normal.

The bear has gotten into attractants like as garbage, dog food and barbecue grill spray left outside residents' houses.

"We'd really like people to put away the bear attractants," he said.

The Kenai Police Department asks residents who store their garbage outside to store it in bear-resistant containers. Police will be assisting people to remove attractants from their yards if they are unable to do so.

"We also want people to use caution when it is dark in the morning and when kids are going to the bus stop," he said.

He said parents might consider waiting in their vehicle with their children if they take them to a bus stop in that area.

So far the young brownie has not had any bad encounters with people and police encourage residents to continue to call in sightings so they can monitor the public safety issue.

If residents secure their waste and attractants it will deter the bear from coming into the neighborhoods altogether, which is the city's goal, Ross said.

"If it's not this bear it's going to be another bear," he said.

In Soldotna a bear has been sighted around Redoubt Elementary and near the Birch Ridge Golf Course.

Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche, who lives by the golf course, had a close encounter with one on Tuesday night that spurred him to visit neighbors and possibly strengthen a city ordinance about people storing trash in bear-resistant containers.

"We were watching the (election) results coming in and finally went to bed, and at 1:30 a.m. I heard some noise by the garage," Micciche said. "I opened my front door and right outside my front door was a very large brown bear."

He said he tried to scare the bear away but the bright lights and noise didn't work. When his wife got up to see what was going on the bear was pressed up against the front door trying to peer through the plate glass.

Micciche, who said he does not store garbage outside, had put out a bag of trash to take to the dump that evening and in a matter of hours the bear sniffed its way to his house.

"That's good evidence there should be no trash outside this time of year," Micciche said.

After visiting neighbors and cleaning up attractants Wednesday, he said the bear came through the neighborhood last night but didn't stop.

Micciche said people should keep their bird feeders inside until the bears den up for the winter as well as securing any outside freezers so they can't be easily opened by curious bruins.

"Bears are our neighbors and if we don't want to see negative interactions or the destruction of perfectly beautiful animals we're going to have to be better stewards," he said.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.



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