A black bear saunters across a busy street downtown in 2018. A larger than normal number of young bears and dwindling natural food supply for them are forcing the animals to head for Juneau’s garbage with unusual frequency, a wildlife official said. KTOO Public Media reports that a poor berry crop and lackluster salmon runs mean more bears are looking for food among the city’s trash. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

A black bear saunters across a busy street downtown in 2018. A larger than normal number of young bears and dwindling natural food supply for them are forcing the animals to head for Juneau’s garbage with unusual frequency, a wildlife official said. KTOO Public Media reports that a poor berry crop and lackluster salmon runs mean more bears are looking for food among the city’s trash. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

More young bears, less food send them to Juneau’s garbage

A poor berry crop and lackluster salmon runs contribute.

By Associated Press

A larger than normal number of young bears and dwindling natural food supply for them are forcing the animals to head for Juneau’s garbage with unusual frequency, a wildlife official said.

A poor berry crop and lackluster salmon runs this year mean more bears are looking for food among the city’s trash, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported.

Conditions have made bears desperate to fatten themselves before they hibernate for the winter, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said.

Abby McAllister, a wildlife education and outreach specialist with the agency, said more bears are competing for the smaller amount of available food.

A better berry crop and decent fish runs last year meant more new cubs survived the winter.

Those young bears have recently been kicked out by their mothers and need to fend for themselves, but are still inexperienced, McAllister said.

[Bear breaks into car chasing the scent of pizza]

“They’re kind of like a teenager on their own for the first time just trying to figure out things,” she said. “They make a lot of mistakes along the way.”

There have been 687 bear-related calls so far this year to Fish and Game and the Juneau Police Department, double the number for the same period last year.

The calls involved 13 different bears. Four were moved away from the city and nine were killed because they posed threats to life or property.

Loren Brown, Juneau site manager for garbage utility Alaska Waste, told Juneau Assembly members that about 1,500 of 8,000 residential customers have bear-resistant trash cans, which automatically unload when turned upside down by a garbage truck lift.

“None of them are bear-proof,” Brown said.

There is a waiting list of 100 customers for the newest, bear-resistant trash cans, and 350 have been ordered, Brown said.

“This year is the worst it’s been in years,” Brown said. “It’s just hard to say what number is enough.”

• This is an Associated Press report.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sugar Bear Alaskan Treasures, seen here, was one of many artist vendors featured at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Indigenous Holiday Market features local artists

Market’s first return since 2018.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 24

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A member of the Juneau Gun Club helps participants with shooting clay targets, one of many events featured at the club’s annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Ready, aim, gobble: Juneau Gun Club hosts annual Turkey Shoot

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this article.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Nov. 23

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A cellphone screen displays spam text messages. During busy shopping season, scammers pretending to be other people, businesses or agencies frequently attempt to gain personal information via “spoofed” text messages, emails or phone calls. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
‘Criminals do not take the holidays off’

FBI shares tips to avoid being scammed during busy shopping season.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 19

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Nov. 22

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read