ANCHORAGE - Despite pressure from state environmental and wildlife officials, the Dillingham City Council has refused to back down on a plan to allow bear tours at the city dump.
The council stood by its decision to grant a permit to local guide Karen Roberts to charge $20 per person to view grizzly bears feeding at the landfill.
When the state Department of Environmental Conservation learned of the arrangement earlier this month, it sent a letter warning Dillingham officials that allowing bear viewing at the city dump would violate a state law requiring landfills to be managed so ``wildlife and domestic animals do not endanger public health, safety or welfare.''
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also asked the council to reconsider its decision.
``There are several biological, social and practical reasons why this is a poor idea,'' wrote Fish and Game regional supervisor Jeff Hughes in a May 16 letter. ``A vision of bears foraging through garbage is not the memory with which we want visitors to leave Alaska.''
Despite the letters the council is standing firm.
``Nobody changed their mind,'' said Chris Hladick, Dillingham's city manager.
Hladick had opposed the permit. He is also working with state officials to close the problem landfill and open up a new one with an electric fence to keep out bears.
DEC officials said they aren't sure how to proceed from here. Heather Stockard, DEC's solid waste program manager, said the state could cite Dillingham.
``Right now we're gathering information,'' she said.
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