ANCHORAGE - Hundreds of homes will get free bear-resistant garbage cans this summer in an effort to discourage trash bears in two areas of east Anchorage.
The move is being made because of persistent bear problems.
About 500 of the 96-gallon BearSaver containers will be issued to homes next month for use until October. The program will deliver the wheeled, latched cans to residents in targeted areas of northeast Muldoon and Stuckagain Heights.
Residents would still have to pay the basic collection fee, but additional charges would be covered.
"We've never done something like this in Anchorage before," said Elizabeth Manning, wildlife education and outreach specialist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "The basic purpose of the program was to expand the use of bear-resistant cans."
The areas were selected because of their proximity to bears. Stuckagain Heights has had some bear issues, but the northeast corner of Muldoon is persistently the worst part of town for bear-related calls, Anchorage-area wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott said.
Alaska Waste introduced the bear-proof cans in Anchorage last summer after efforts to push back collection times so residents wouldn't have to leave trash out overnight. However, fewer than 100 customers scattered across town signed up to rent them, said Jeff Riley, Alaska Waste's chief operating officer.
The trial run this summer should help Alaska Waste test the feasibility of using the cans en masse, including how well they withstand bears and weather. The test run will also allow the company to see how much, if at all, a trigger-operated locking lid slows collection, Riley said.
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