Whom do I call?

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2002

Bears in Juneau are a common sight this time of year, but not every sighting warrants a call to authorities. The Juneau Police Department has noticed more people improperly calling 911 to report bear sightings this month, and offers these suggestions:

• Call 911 only if a bear poses a direct threat to humans.

• Call the regular police line at 586-0600 to request police services for litter and garbage violations.

• Call the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 465-4265 if you are having an ongoing problem with bears.

• In general, you don't need to call the police or Fish and Game to report a routine bear sighting.

In most cases, people have a bear in their yard because of litter, according to Neil Barten, area wildlife biologist with Fish and Game. The department asks people to think about what is attracting the bruin - garbage, a grill or a birdfeeder - and address the problem that way, he said.

Polly Hessing, assistant area wildlife biologist with Fish and Game, also reminds people not to get too close to the animals. Bears need a lot of space and chasing them is dangerous, she said.

"You shouldn't approach these animals at all," she said. "We don't want them as comfortable as they are around people."

On that note, it's a good idea to call police if a bear is surrounded by tourists, Barten said.



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