Assembly cracks down on bear nuisance violators

Misdemeanor criminal penalties for property owners

Members of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly voted Tuesday to criminalize some property owners who leave out garbage that attracts bears.

The penalties fall on the property owner even if the property is being rented to someone else. The Assembly voted 8 to 1 in favor of the measure, which goes into effect in 30 days.

Assemblyman Jerry Nankervis joined the meeting via telephone and objected to making violators criminals rather than issuing infractions.

“We have options to deal with bear-baiting, and there is certainly precedent for making these infractions,” Nankervis said. “We’re punishing people and, perhaps, we’re not doing it correctly.”

Owners who intentionally, knowingly or recklessly leave out attraction nuisances will be charged with class A misdemeanors. Incidents deemed the result of criminal negligence are punished with class B misdemeanors, and all other violations could result in civil fines.

An attraction nuisance is defined as more than one-half gallon of stinky material, organic material that has attracted a bear to the property, or soiled disposable diapers.

Exceptions are made for material stored in a container that requires hands or tools to open, or in bear-resistant metal cans designed to be lifted by a garbage truck.

However, if a bear has gotten into the garbage at least three times in a 30-day period, the storage unit would be in violation of the ordinance.

The cans must also have lids secured in a fashion that prevents them from opening if the can is knocked over.

Each day or portion of a day the owner fails to comply with the ordinance can be treated as a separate incident and could result in multiple citations.

Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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