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

It's a police car until you look closely. The eye shies away, the . (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, July 23, 2021

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

The Teal Street Center, shown here in concept, is a combined social services hub located next to the new Glory Hall and expected to break ground this autumn. (Courtesy art / United Human Services)
Combined social services center receives major funding grant

The center, located next to the new Glory Hall, breaks ground this autumn.

It's a police car until you look closely. The eye shies away, the . (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, July 22, 2021

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

Cathy Mendoza sits in the driver's seat of her ice cream truck on July 18. She recently launched the ice cream truck business in Juneau. She said that despite the concept being new to Juneau, sales have been brisk. (Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire)
The scoop on Juneau’s new ice cream truck

New addition brings joy to the streets

City and Borough of Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt holds up a chart showing the increase in the size of cruise ships during a meeting of the Tourism Industry Task Force in the Assembly chambers on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. At Monday’s meeting, members of the City Assembly’s Committee of the Whole discussed three of the committee’s recommendations-a discussion that was sidelined by COVID-19. (Michael Penn /Juneau Empire File)
City turns to tourism management ahead of short cruise season

Community survey coming, new tourism job being considered

This December 2020 photo shows a CCFR vehicle. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Man arrested on charges related to vehicle fire

No injuries were reported in the early morning fire.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 21, 2021

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

1
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Reader-submitted photos of Southeast Alaska.

Most Read