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Bears making regular appearances in backyards

Most bruin intrusions at homes stem from poor choices from people

Posted: Friday, July 07, 2000

With salmonberries ripening, bears will have access to more natural food and be less apt to raid garbage cans. But in the meantime, bruin sightings are becoming an everyday occurrence.

A North Douglas resident complained to Mayor Dennis Egan on his radio call-in show this week that she had a bear in her kitchen recently, and bears were keeping her from barbecuing in her yard.

An example of bear activity is the period between 8 a.m. Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday, when police received more than 10 calls about seven different bear sightings.

A call at noon reported a bear going through garbage in the 9100 block of Douglas Highway on Tuesday evening and during the night. In a call about 12:30 p.m., a woman reported a bear ran through her yard in Lemon Creek near Lemon and Lund Streets. The third call came in shortly before 2 p.m., reporting a bear in the area of Mendenhall Loop Road.

The bears stayed hidden for a few hours of afternoon heat until emerging about 5 p.m. on Moraine Way. A caller reported a cub in a tree with its mother and other cub on the ground.

Minutes before 9 p.m., police dispatch received four reports of a bear in the area of Mark Alan Street. The bear was getting into trash cans but showed no aggression toward humans.

About 11:30 p.m., police received a report about a bear in a wooded area in a back yard on Pine Street in Lemon Creek. Lemon, Lund, Mark Alan and Pine are all very close to one another -- so these four reports may have been about a single bear.

The final call came 18 minutes into Thursday from Nowell Avenue in West Juneau -- a bear trying garbage cans.

``The last couple of days have been incredibly busy for early July,'' said area management biologist Neil Barten of the state Department of Fish and Game.

``I've had calls from Star Hill, Switzer Creek, all the way out to Mile 17 on the Highway. That's a lot of activity,'' Barten said.

Most residents who call him protest they have nothing attractive to bears in their yards. They take Fish and Game to task for not moving or killing the bears, Barten said.

Almost inevitably, after he quizzes his callers, he finds they have been irresponsible, or simply can't resist leaving food out. Bears enjoy black oil sunflower seeds just as much as squirrels. And residents who leave their doors open while absent, or who spread peanut butter on a rock on the windowsill to attract wildlife, as one person did, should anticipate furry visitors.

If bears find nothing to eat, they sniff around and then leave, Barten said. But once they scarf something tasty from the garbage or the dog dish, they'll return to the area again and again.

Barten recommends residents double-bag smelly items and freeze them until garbage pick-up day. Or, lock their garbage cans in the garage or a secure shed.

``Having bears on every hillside and greenbelt is part of the fun of living in this area, if people learn not to fight (their scavenger ways) all the time,'' Barten added.



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