My Turn: CBJ'S bear plan requires action now

Posted: Friday, February 08, 2002

Not a day passes without numerous citizens calling or stopping me to ask what's going on with bears and wolves. Being a public person I endeavor to do my best to listen to their comments and questions and to provide the best answers I can or to simply state I don't know.

So, I can either go about this in a personal matter another 30,000 times or put fingers to keyboard and let words do the work.

I resigned my chairmanship of the Bear Committee in disgust after it became clear that both myself and the committee had become irrelevant due to the promulgation of four separate bureaucracies within the CBJ. Instead of consolidation and focusing all bear and garbage-related problems, questions and the like through one person (a bear czar, so to speak - a point city officials and I had agreed upon), the CBJ now has Assemblyman Dale Anderson and his Planning and Policy Committee in charge of bears. No, JPD is in charge or bears. No, Community Development is in charge of bears. No, the CBJ Director of Tourism is in charge of bears. Don't even begin to consider that the high-paid CBJ public relations position deal with bears, or the media for that matter.

This, in my estimation, is a recipe for failure.

It's also the reason I will no longer continue to be a part of the problem, oops, I meant "process."

Now add to the mix ADF&G and federal wildlife types, the Urban Bear Patrol, bear vigilantes and coming soon: animal rights activist organizations. Get the picture?

The bear committee has four members, though that's actually three Assemblymen and alleged "environmentalist" Marc Wheeler, who attended about a quarter of the time. His biggest input was that he was worried about telling his mother, who lives out of town, that birdfeeders should be nixed. Should the mayor wish to fill the empty seats, there is a waiting list of eager lackeys and bootlickers within City Hall.

Nevermind the political bad blood between me and the mayor. Who cares if me and my supporters were used and then discarded? So what if the city manager considers me a real pain. Big deal if I was ignored for the bear CSO position. It's all ancient history.

What needs to happen is action. That means action now. Bears aren't the biggest problem facing our community, but the urban bear-garbage situation is among the most easily fixed.

City government has about six weeks to get its act together as well as amending the previous garbage ordinance to outlaw plastic Dumpster lids. To Assemblymembers Jeanie Johnson's and Jim Powell's credit, they are trying to get this done despite hoofdragging by others. My buddy Dale Anderson gets kudos for trying the get the Assembly, the mayor and the city manager to just do something.

So rather than work with us at, the city is making a Web site to duplicate ours at your expense. Enjoy. They also promise to get the public information mailout that was promised last year, mailed out.

They may actually be able to tell us what a bear-resistant enclosure is even though existing law requires you to have one. Order now and you also get a $14,000 public affairs campaign that could be funded for two years if the CBJ canceled the $30,000 a year Bartlett "House Calls" fishwrapper that everyone throws away. I count at least six chiefs downtown and no workerbees. Now you guess what will happen.

There is plenty of room for citizen action in helping your neighbors and friends with their garbage and getting the word out. There is ample opportunity for local entrepreneurs not in creating an obscene travesty of a bear petting zoo but in manufacturing low-cost bear-resistant enclosures and metal Dumpster lids. The best course of action is local action.

Eliminate the middleman (clueless local government in this case) and figure out a solution that works for you and your neighborhood.

Farmer describes himself as a disgruntled resident of Douglas Island.

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