More trash and less wild food have created a “perfect storm” of black bear encounters in Alaska this summer, reports the Anchorage Daily News.
“We have a perfect storm — a bumper crop of young animals, what appears to be (food) resource failure and then highly accessible trash,” Charlotte Westing, area management biologist in Cordova, Alaska, told the publication.
The Juneau Police Department and state Department of Fish and Game have received about 600 reports of sightings or encounters with black bears in 2018, reported Alaska Public Media. The agencies received 470 reports in 2017.
And in Anchorage, police and state biologists count 640 calls of bear encounters so far this year, compared to 492 such calls in 2017 and 271 in 2016, officials told the Anchorage Daily News.
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“We are just getting hammered with bears,” said Sgt. Robin Morrisett, a Cordova wildlife trooper, according to the publication. “This year by far is the craziest year for bears I’ve ever seen.”
Part of the problem seems to be a shortfall in wild food normally consumed by the bears as they fatten up to hibernate over the winter.
“A lot of the fish runs were poor and anecdotally, from what I’ve seen out in the woods, it seems like the berry run is low this year,” said Carl Koch with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, reported Alaska Public Media.
As a result, more black bears are seeking out unsecured trash, pet food or other less orthodox sources of nourishment, experts told Alaska Public Media.
In August, Alaska state troopers cited Nicolle Hogan, 46, of Juneau, accused of dumping hundreds of pounds of fish meal to attract bears, reported KTVA.
In early September, incursions by black bears seeking apples and berries forced the temporary closure of the Jensen-Olson Arboretum in Juneau, reported KTOO.