Education can save the bears

Posted: Monday, July 31, 2000

I don't know if I have anything new to say about bears but, after seeing three black bears today (or possible the same one in three different locations downtown) and speaking to a Fish and Game official, I would like to address the bear issue briefly. Maybe even just one single person will think about what he or she might do, or will encourage the city to enact better ordinances to save bears.

We all know who is causing the problem and it's not the black bears. Our police dispatcher is receiving over 30 bear-related phone calls a day. Often they will respond to my neighborhood, fire warning shots and the bear will move from Kennedy to East Street or down to Gastineau, then the call comes from the next neighborhood.

When I phoned today, I was given a Fish and Game number and spoke with an official who met me on Fourth Street near my office and allowed close to 40 minutes of his very valuable time to educate one Starr Hill neighbor about what can be done if people are educated.

He suggests many more dumpsters and an ordinance requiring locks on all dumpsters. Bears have no trouble getting them open and even climbing inside. All mobile home parks should provide locked dumpsters since there are few garages in the parks to store garbage in. As most residents know, current city ordinance requires all cans to have tight-fitting lids. There isn't one lid in my neighborhood that doesn't have teeth marks on it. They can open the lids in a moment. Many put their garbage inside but then there's one morning a week when all cans have to be out on the street. As the old song from the '50s went (some may remember), ``today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.''

I'd like to see bears spending their spring and summer up in the beautiful forests and meadows surrounding our city, rich with roots, berries and streams with fish instead of being stared at by tourists on lower S. Franklin Street. I'd like to see our police department responding to important calls and our Fish and Game official concentrating on wilderness issues rather than local garbage. I'd like others to phone the police and Fish and Game, but only with constructive suggestions, offers of volunteer help and money to help educate about how each of us can help save the bears. They are rare and beautiful creatures.

Jane Edwards


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