With human-bear encounters already making headlines around the state, it’s a good time for a reminder to Kenai Peninsula residents that we live in bear country, and that bruins are already out about.
And with that comes a reminder that in bear country, whether it’s the backcountry or your back yard, certain safety precautions are necessary.
First and foremost, if you’re out and about for a walk or a jog, even in your neighborhood, be aware of your surroundings. Make a little noise so that a bear in the vicinity knows you’re coming. If you’re headed out to one of the many Kenai Peninsula trails, go with a group. Bring a bear bell and the bear deterrent you’re comfortable using, whether it’s pepper spray or a firearm.
Around your house, minimize bear attractants — anything a hungry bruin could construe as food. Alaska Department of Fish and Game recommends that residents keep trash in bear-resistant containers or inside. Animal feed should be stored in a secure area. Bird feeders should be put away for the summer. Chest freezers stored outdoors should be locked or secured with ratchet straps.
Of particular concern to residents in the coming season should be proper disposal of fish carcasses. Numerous bear issues in recent years have started with fish carcasses carelessly dumped in or near a neighborhood.
Bears are smart animals, and they’re looking for the easiest meal they can find after their long winter’s nap. Make sure easy food sources aren’t available, and most of the time, they will be just passing through, not sticking around to cause trouble.
Living with bears — and all the other animals that thrive on the Kenai Peninsula — is part of what makes life here such an adventure. Let’s do our part to make sure it stays that way.