What others say: An Alaska bear solution

  • Monday, April 27, 2015 4:00pm
  • Opinion

Bears aren’t the problem.

It’s us — the people disposing of garbage into containers.

Well, not all of us. Some of us deliver our garbage to the landfill. But, for those who leave it in a container throughout the week before it’s picked up, it’s possible we’re the problem.

This garbage attracts bears, which pop the tops of the containers or push them over and paw through the trash. Often, they’ll grab a bag of it and drag it off to inspect it further.

Never do they return it to the garbage container when they’re done!

You might say that it isn’t your container. You have it secured with a bungee cord or the like. To that, bears guffaw, if you can imagine a laughing black bruin. It takes a rope as well, and, in some cases, with some bears, maybe even a padlock.

Black bears pawing through garbage containers is a challenge to the community this time of year. City officials and the Ketchikan Police Department begin receiving calls from residents frustrated with picking up trash strewn about our neighborhoods, especially when it isn’t our garbage.

Dealing with the mess takes time and costs both government and residents — someone has to pay for new garbage bags for the trash because the bears destroy the original ones. Plus, it really shouldn’t be asked of the police to pick up trash. It’s nice of them if they help an old lady with cleaning up after the bears, but it isn’t what they should be expected to do in one part of town or another throughout bear season. They’re paid to clean up other types of messes in the community.

A possible solution:

The city began to address the problem of bears getting into garbage cans when it supplied containers several years ago. Most of the old tin-can containers disappeared then. This made it easier for the garbage collectors, too. The containers can be rolled to the garbage trucks and can be hoisted mechanically for disposal. The containers also can be secured against bears.

Not all residents in bear-vulnerable neighborhoods secure the containers, however. The city should provide the cords and ropes with the containers and require that the address numbers be painted in large type on the containers.

Then, it would be easy for the police as they cruise through these neighborhoods to identify who isn’t securing a container properly. It would take only a citation — or maybe two — to change people’s behavior and solve the bear-in-garbage-containers problem.

When it comes to rental properties, which too often are where containers aren’t secured, the citations could be sent to property owners. They could pass the cost along to their tenants, which might induce them to secure containers, too.

The city could recoup its cost through a one-time charge for the cords and ropes on utility bills. These aren’t expensive. Even those who don’t put their trash outside, but who have to pick up others’ trash, likely wouldn’t mind such a charge if it meant relief from regularly picking up garbage.

City-organized, garbage-container security could cinch the bears-in-trash problem.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

April 25

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