April is “Bear Awareness Month” in Alaska and so far only a few reports of bears awake and roaming around have been received. Yet Alaska Department of Fish & Game biologists say that’s likely to change any day.
In preparation, the department is asking Alaskans to take down bird feeders and place garbage, livestock feed and pet foods indoors or in bear-resistant containers.
Bears appear around homes early each spring, drawn by bird feeders stocked with seed and suet. To prevent attracting hungry bears, feeders should be taken down by April 15.
Storing pet and livestock foods, trash and other bear attractants inside, in a garage or sturdy shed or in bear-resistant containers will further reduce unwanted bear visits.
Owners of chickens, goats and other small livestock should consider erecting electric fences to discourage raids by bears.
Once bears associate homes and people with food, they often return. Minimizing attractants reduces the likelihood of potentially dangerous interactions, loss of personal property and the unnecessary destruction of bears.
Feeding bears, even unintentionally, is illegal and leaving attractants out around homes, cabins or camps in a manner that attracts bears can result in fines.
Things to keep in mind as bears wake up and become active
• Garbage — Store garbage and animal feeds inside buildings or in bear-proof containers. Keep garbage secured until the day of your scheduled pickup. Encourage neighbors to do the same.
• Electric fences — Electric fences can keep bears out of gardens, compost, and away from buildings, chicken coops and domestic animals. For more information, contact your area department office or the visit the department webpage www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livingwithbears.bearfences.
• Barbecues — Clean barbecue grills, especially grease traps, after each use.
• Pets — Feed pets indoors or clean up excess and spilled food between meals.
• Freezers — Keep freezers locked in a secure building or otherwise out of bears’ reach.
• Gardens — Plant gardens in the open, away from cover and game trails. Only compost raw vegetable matter and turn over compost frequently.
For more information about coexisting with bears, visit www.alaskabears.alaska.gov.