A bear hangs out on a rock during a sunny evening in the Amalga Harbor area in late July. (David Rigas / Juneau Empire)

A bear hangs out on a rock during a sunny evening in the Amalga Harbor area in late July. (David Rigas / Juneau Empire)

Two bears in Juneau are breaking into cars again

However, overall incidents in the capital city have been minimal, officials say.

Two bears in Juneau are reportedly breaking into cars again, according to wildlife officials.

“The bears are still alive and still getting into cars and we’re still asking people to keep their doors locked in that area,” said Roy Churchwell, a wildlife biologist with the state Division of Wildlife Conservation.

The two black bears, one reportedly located in the Twin Lakes area and the other near Dredge Lake, are not rookies when it comes to break-ins. Last year it was reported the department was monitoring two similar bears in the Mendenhall Valley area that learned how to open car doors and were causing “fairly significant damage” to multiple vehicles during the summer.

Officials last year said the occurrence is a relatively new phenomenon happening in Juneau over the past five years and speculated it could be because new car designs make it easier for a bear to open doors.

“We are giving the same advice to keep your doors locked and not have any kind of food items or attractions in your vehicles,” Churchwell said.

However, despite those two bears, Churchwell said it’s been a relatively quiet year for the number of reported calls and incidents that have occurred in Juneau this summer. He said there have been no reported encounters that have necessitated euthanizations, compared to last year’s one euthanization reported in the area.

Churchwell attributes the lack of reported encounters to what appears to be an abundance of natural food sources available this summer.

“We are getting lots of reports of salmon, and bears eating salmon berries and blueberries, so I think we’re doing pretty well, luckily,” he said.

Churchwell emphasized that doesn’t negate the importance of making sure waste is secured and unavailable to bears, especially as bears begin to transition into hyperphagia — their last push to pack on calories ahead of winter. Hyperphagia typically runs from mid-August through to late September or October.

“Put your trash out only on trash day and keep your attractants secure around your house,” he said. “Make sure you’ve taken down the bird feeders including hummingbird feeders because they’ll attract bears too.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

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