KODIAK, Alaska - Brown bears have been making forays into Kodiak to feast on the contents of garbage cans and residents want relief from the Kodiak Island Borough.
The Kodiak Daily Mirror (http://bit.ly/RIG5j4) reports the island's famous bears often enter the city on an eating spree just before their winter sleep.
The Kodiak Police Department chases them off with loud cracker shells and rubber bullets, which is another irritant.
"It sounded like a war zone this weekend," city resident April Eads told borough assembly members Thursday night.
People who mishandle garbage should be fined, she said.
"The police officers I talked to were frustrated that people were leaving garbage out," Eads said. "Why isn't there an island-wide ordinance to contain garbage?"
Many bear problems start with people who dump garbage into cans without bags, said Rey Estrada, a driver for Alaska Waste, the company that collects garbage.
"I am on the front lines of this," he said. "I see the problem."
Other residents faulted the company's roll carts.
"The current ones are unacceptable," said resident Amanda Bowers.
Assemblywoman Louise Stutes challenged Estrada's claim that a well-tied plastic bag would stop bear problems.
"Frankly, I find it a little bit offensive for someone to tell me a plastic bag is going to keep a bear out of their garbage," she said. Alaska Waste, she said, should provide bear-resistant roll carts.
Incidents this year began Oct. 1, said Alaska Waste manager Rick Vahl, about the time they started last year.
Alaska Waste is abiding by its contract by bringing out tougher metal industrial trash bins and cleaning up garbage strewn by bears.
There is only so much that Alaska Waste can do on its own, he said.
"Everywhere else in the state, these roll carts work because people are held liable for their garbage," he said. "The problem is not the bears; it's the people."