Bear witness to trash mistakes

We live near the Governor’s Mansion in a neighborhood that has been targeted by bears in the 20 years since we moved here. The bears have been drawn by an irresistible lunch bucket: a dumpster parked next to a nearby apartment building. Until last fall, the dumpster met the legal definition of a bear-resistant container since it had metal lids and latches, but almost every morning during bear season we would find the dumpster overturned and garbage strewn up and down our street.

For years, we tried to get the police department to enforce the garbage ordinance, but by law they were powerless to place responsibility with the apartment owner since the dumpster was legal and the tenants, not the owner, failed to connect the useless cable latches.

Late last summer, we took the matter before the Assembly and asked that the bear nuisance ordinance be amended so a property owner would be responsible for any container that “has been proven ineffective as a bear-resistant container or containment area, whether due to design or improper use, three or more times within a 30-day period.”

The amended city ordinance, which went into effect the second week of October 2013, made failure to comply a misdemeanor and added stiff fines.

Property owners, be advised, there are no more excuses for not maintaining bearproof garbage containers. And for those of you who have suffered the neglect of neighbors who fail to secure their garbage, get your cameras and affidavits ready to “bear witness.”

Peter and Sandy Metcalfe

Juneau Residents

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