A potential change to Juneau’s bear laws would encourage business owners and residents to better secure their garbage.
Currently, city law states that trash must be stored in a container which requires hands or tools to open, is secured by a bear resistant device, or located behind barriers.
Community services officer Bob Dilley says bears are still getting into containers and structures considered “bear-proof.”
“There’s bear calls coming in every day. It’s been a pretty busy season for bears. They’re kind of spread out all over town. We get residential complaints. We get commercial complaints.”
Dilley says having bear resistant devices or structures is no longer enough if bears are still getting into them.
“If somebody had a large apt building that has metal bear lids on their dumpster and they have cables but the residents are keeping the cables fastened, so the bear keeps getting into it, then they would have to go to something like a gravity latch or a different type of system that automatically keeps the dumpster locked up so bears can’t get into it.”
CBJ assembly member Jesse Kiehl says some housing developments are successful in keeping bears away either by dumpster structures or making sure the lid is properly closed. But, he says, people at other housing developments aren’t making the same effort.
“At some point here, those people have to take responsibility too. And if that means the landlord has to build three walls around it and put a gate up in the front, then that’s what that has to mean. Or if it means that they have to get a better garbage can holder, that’s what it has to mean.”
Ryan Scott is a wildlife management biologist for the Department of Fish and Game. He says the proposed ordinance is a good start.
“It’s certainly not going to be a fix all, but at the same time if we run up against these situations where we have an attractant that just continues to be a concern and a problem without seeing any progress made, this might be the tool to turn the tide on that.”
Officer Dilley says if a bear gets into a garbage container more than three times in a 30-day period, it would be deemed a bear attraction nuisance, according to the ordinance, and a ticket would be issued.
The fine for the first offense is $50. A second offense within two years is $100. A third offense is $300.