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 Most Juneau Bears are Behaving

Traps have nevertheless been set in the valley for a couple of bruins that have figured things out

Tony Carrolll / Juneau Empire / August 30, 2005

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials set out two bear traps Monday in the Mendenhall Valley.

"I think most are fine with berries and fish," Barten said.

The traps will address problems in the Kodzoff Acres Mobile Home Park and the area of Wren Drive off the back of Mendenhall Loop Road, Barten said. Some bear problems have been reported in the Switzer Village Mobile Home Park in the Lemon Creek area, and in the Douglas area.

Bears can move quickly between the valley and Lemon Creek areas, making it difficult to know just how many bears area causing a nuisance, he said. But it appears to be only a few.

Barten credits "bear awareness" and community efforts to better secure trash as reasons for the improvement over 10 years ago, when bears had easy access to garbage. Still, there are bears that know what pizza scraps taste like and some are willing to go to the extra trouble to get them.

Juneau police have reported several incidents this year of bears getting into garages and arctic entries. A couple of families in the Lemon Creek area have dealt with bears in their homes.

A Lemon Creek family found a bear eating scraps in the kitchen earlier this month after it entered the home through the garage. Geri Anderson said it was the only time in 10 years there that a bear got inside, but once was scary enough.

"I think he's traumatized," she said. Only plywood remains where the bear broke through the picture window to make its escape.

Bears have visited her deck for 10 years, she said. But she knows of only that one getting into her garage.

"Ten years ago bears never had to get into garages," Barten said. People put their trash out the night before it was to be collected.

"Now people can't put their trash out until 4 a.m. the day of pickup. Many trash containers at downtown businesses had plastic lids; now there are bear-proof cemented-down metal containers throughout the area.

Many bears seem to find it too much trouble to get into garbage enclosures and garages where people are securing their trash, Barten said.

Juneau's bears are likely to be more visible in September as they approach hibernation in November, he added. "They're more actively feeding," he said. "This time of the year, there's a lot more activity."

* Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com

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