Bear complaints drop in test neighborhood

Posted: Monday, December 01, 2003

In two areas known for high bear activity -- the Valhalla Heights and Shaginoff subdivisions in Kenai -- there was success this year in making things safer for residents -- both the two- and four-legged kind.

"It's been a success in my opinion, since no bear complaints came in from those areas this season," said Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in regard to the ongoing Bear-Safe Neighborhood Project in the two subdivisions.

The project, made possible through a grant and partnership between the Audubon Society and Fish and Game, provided bear-resistant garbage totes, free of charge, to more than 50 homeowners in the two subdivisions. It began in June and runs until December 2004.

But Lewis credits the success to more than the bear-resistant totes and cooperative homeowners.

"Many have had an active role in the project," he said. "The city of Kenai, Kenai Police Department and Peninsula Sanitation have been very involved, and successfully stopped the illegal fish dumping in those neighborhoods."

Friday, a public meeting will be held to discuss the project and its possible expansion to other communities.

"This will be a year end wrap up," Lewis said. "This will be an opportunity for everyone to come together, to review successes and failures, and see if anything needs tweaking before other neighborhoods come on board. We need the community's feedback since they're integral to making this happen."

According to Lewis, other subdivisions that have had bear problems in regard to waste management have expressed their interest in taking part in the project.

"Now is a good time for folks looking to do something similar in the neighborhoods to learn about it," he said.

However, Lewis said the bear-resistant receptacles and service won't be free to other neighborhoods, as it was during this pilot-program.

The meeting may seem to be at the time of year when most people aren't thinking of bears. However, Lewis pointed out it's never too early to be concerned.

"Last year my first bear in the garbage call came in in January," he said.

Friday's meeting is at 6 p.m. at Eagles Aerie No. 35255 at 5765 Kenai Spur Highway. For more in-formation, contact Larry Lewis at 262-9368.

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