SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Garbage bears
By Lou Ann Richardson


September 04, 2007
Tuesday PM

Once again, I find myself writing the rare response letter in Sitnews. This one, regarding the garbage bears.

I, like Ms. Young, live in Bear Valley, in fact, I believe I live right down the street from her. Unlike her, or Mr. Easterly, and the many others who have their garbage spread all over, I have no problem with the garbage bears. There are at least four houses in our section of Brown Deer Road that never have a problem with the garbage bears. Why? Because we take precautions to care for our garbage in a way so as not to attract the bears in the first place. The garbage bears are here due to our behavior, we have created their dependence on our garbage and it's up to us to remedy it, not by expecting Fish and Game to fix it all the time and not with a gun and testerone, but by being responsible stewards of our environment.

Aside from suggesting that folks assume some responsibility for their own behavior, I would also suggest that the city of Ketchikan do as the city of Juneau did with their problem garbage bears...the short version....if a bear's getting into your garbage, you get cited and ultimately fined. The gist of the ordinance is:

1. Your container(s) must have a secure(d) lid(s).
2. Your garbage can must be secured within a confined area and may not be accessible before 4 a.m. of your own particular garbage day.
3. If your garbage can is noted by Juneau police on patrol to be out beyond the time allowed, a red warning tag is attached to your can giving you your "first warning" to secure your can and that you are in violation and could be cited.
4. If bears continue to get into your garbage, you will be fined $50, $100, and $300 respectively for each incident, with the cap at $300 for each subsequent infraction.

If you shoot the bear, you still get the fine.

According the Juneau police, from 2001-2004, they had an 80% decrease in problem bears in the garbage.

Unfortunately, thanks to my neighbor like Ms. Young and Mr. Easterly and his neighbors, and their inability to appropriately handle their garbage, young unsuspecting bears are likely going to to be shot. Nice stewardship of our environment folks.

I would be happy to participate in a community task force to begin identifying a community response much like Juneau's where we hold each other financially liable for problem garbage bears. Maybe that will get folks' attention to managing their garbage instead of expecting everyone else to fix the problem.

In the meantime, bottom line Ms. Young, if you want the bears to return to their natural habitat, take responsibility for your garbage like the rest of us have learned to do, clearly what you've been doing isn't enough. You need to come up with an answer to this, not Fish and Game, and not with guns.

Lou Ann Richardson
Ketchikan, AK

Received September 04, 2007 - Published September 04, 2007

About: "25 year Ketchikan resident and 18 year Bear Valley resident with no garbage bear problem"

Related Viewpoint:

letter Backyard bears HAVE GOT TO GO By Gabreal A. Easterly - Ketchikan, AK

letter Week 2 of "Bear Patrol" By Lynette R. Young - Ketchikan, AK

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Ketchikan, Alaska