Neighbors of bears like protection measures

Posted: Sunday, July 01, 2001

It's about two hours before the garbage truck arrives at the Thunder Mountain Mobile Park on a recent Tuesday morning and Lee George is pulling bags of fish heads and guts from the freezer.

"We take everything with a smell and freeze it," he said. "I'd advise it for anyone."

After a weekend of successful king salmon fishing, George said he wants to do his part to keep bears away from his family's garbage. He's glad the city has new rules to protect bears. Growing up in Hoonah, he said he was taught to value the large mammals.

"It's their country, too. We're the ones who are invading into their territory," he said.

Around the corner, William Fallis pointed to a pickup truck with his family's trash in the back that is headed for the landfill. A resident of nearby Threadneedle Street, he frequently spots bears in his neighborhood, but doesn't call the police when he sees them.

"I don't bother them and they don't bother me," he said.

Threadneedle is where a mother bear and her cub had a run-in with police, residents and dogs last month. The mother was shot and her cub was later euthanized.

Fallis said he doesn't blame bears that are searching for garbage.

"Why go two miles down the road when you've got treats?" he said.

At North Loop Way, Marlowe Dunker secured garbage cans where she is housesitting in an effort to comply with the city's new garbage ordinance. She agrees with a new city policy that directs police to only shoot bears in the event of immediate danger to people.

"I don't think they should shoot them at all. If a person is in danger, that's a different story," she said. "We're sharing this spot. If we want to keep it safe, it's up to us to keep it clean."

At Kelly Court, Sarah Dunlap said she observed a yearling cub in her yard this year eyeing a surprised cat. She's careful not to leave things that might attract bears in her yard and appreciates the city's work on the issue, she said.

"We like the bears here and want to be good neighbors," she said.

The challenge will be reaching a small percentage of people in Juneau that don't understand the connection between bears and garbage, Dunlap added.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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