Some people in the Baxter Bog section of Anchorage are worried that they're being blamed for the need to euthanize 4 bears this week (a mother and her 3 cubs).
They say it's difficult to comply with regulations regarding bears and the animals' access to outdoor trash.
This week the "Alaska Department of Fish and Game" expressed disapproval about trash practices among some residents of the neighborhood.
That after Anchorage Police, and Fish and Game, were required to shoot and kill a mother and her three cubs.
The animals had wandered into the neighborhood Tuesday night, and were rummaging through garbage there. They had become habituated to finding food near houses, and that can endanger people.
But prior to the euthanizing of the animals, some people reacted strongly to the presence of the bears in the neighborhood. Perhapps too strongly .
In one case in one case a man drove an S.U.V right up to the animals while honking, in order to scare them off. He said he only meant it in order to protect his neighbors.
Another man wandered outside with a shotgun and a camera -- apparently trying to get close enough to the animal to shoot a picture -- but also wanting to protect himself, just in case he was charged.
Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Jessy Coltrane says that deliberately approaching a foraging animal, especially if she has cubs with her, is a bad mistake and it's dangerous.
Coltrane also says that if residents don't have bear-resistant trash containers, they must take other precautions. She suggests keeping trash-cans inside your garage right until the morning of pick-up. She also suggested that, if you don't have a garage, you might need to build a bear-proof cabinet in which to store the can until trash pick-up day.
But some residents felt the solutions were impractical. Tonight (Saturday) more than a few complained that they were renters, and did not have the power to purchase bear-proof cans on their own, or the money to build bear-resistant cabinets.
Then there was the problem of the trash collections themselves. "Solid Waste Services", one of 2 companies that picks-up garbage in that neighborhood, points out that its containers are not bear-resistant. The reason is, their trucks are automated. They are not designed to deal-with bear-resistant containers.
"By adding the bear proof garbage cans, you have to have a second person get out of the truck and open every can before you service it, " Tom Madden, a spokesman for the company said. "So it would double the cost of collecting garbage."
But residents disagreed with Madden's assessment. "Solid Waste Services needs to come up with a better solution than hiring someone," said Sara Alborn, a Baxter Bog resident. "I've seen trash cans, just like ours now, that have a bear-proff lid." Then she added, "Guess what? The homeowner, or the resident -- on the day of trash pick-up -- unlatches the trash."
People here would like a solution to their bear problem. They don't like seeing 4 animals destroyed -- especially cubs. Wildlife Officers don't like to euthanize animals either.
Residents want a meeting with "Fish and Game" to improve bear safety.
But "Fish and Game" says people know the rules in Alaska -- use a bear-resistant container, or don't put your garbage out until the morning of a scheduled pick-up.
They say that one neighborhood that complied with their suggestions, nearby Stuck Again Heights, saw a dramatic reduction in bear/human encounters. But even so, this week, a bear did wander inside a home in that neighborhood.