An unacceptable solution for bears

Posted: Thursday, September 06, 2001

My wife and I noted with concern that the Juneau Bear Committee is again considering "culling" of local bears. We believe that this is not the correct approach to the problem of black bears raiding our garbage cans.

Bears are a wild and migratory population which will move to the sites where food is available. If you kill or move local garbage bears, they will return to the place where food is readily available such as the unprotected garbage cans in our case. There are plenty of black bears out in the countryside around Juneau which will rapidly replace the ones you kill or move to remote locations.

As some of my local friends and neighbors know, I have been involved in rabies eradication programs as a WHO committee member in developing countries and we have faced similar problem with the large population of stray dogs in Asia and Africa, which are the main vectors of that disease. Efforts to cull them by poison or shooting have consistently failed as they also behave as a wild migratory population who will go where there is free food. As long as locals feed them, they will remain and vaccination is the only way there to solve the rabies problem. Obviously, controlling the food supply for Juneau bears is what needs to be done. This can only be carried out by intensive educational efforts to control garbage disposal and by local legislation that will fine citizens who allow "stray" bears to feed on their property. If you want to cull our bears, you will have to kill them not only in or near town but throughout our part of Alaska. This "final solution" is hardly acceptable.

Henry Wilde


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