Alaska state law requires residents to keep garbage locked up. Violators of this law can be fined 1,500. Bears who find food from trash will return. Repeated encounters between bears and humans elevates risk of injuries or fatalities. Learning how to properly secure garbage cans will keep bears out of trash while keeping communities safe places to live. I’m a newer Alaska resident and have spoken with Alaska State Troopers, Waste Management and Native Alaskans to find solutions to keep bears from raiding garbage cans.
Daily Garbage Removal
According to Alaska State Troopers, the most effective way to remove bear problems is daily disposal of garbage. This means taking household garbage to landfills daily. Garbage removal eliminates attractable odors. Some Alaska landfills don’t charge fees to dispose household garbage.
Store Garbage in Garages
Storing garbage cans in garages is a popular method of keeping bears out of trash. It’s rare that bears will successfully break into garages. Bears have a keen sense of smell. Beware that garbage odor will still attract bears to your property.
Build Locking Structure
Some Alaska residents have used building materials to defeat bears. Use strong building supplies when making bear-proof structures. Cement structures into the ground or bears can simply push the structures over. Make sure that you unlock your structure on garbage day or that it’s easily accessible for human entry only.
Locking Garbage Cans
Most Alaska cities and towns provide heavy duty garbage cans. Bears will jump and stomp on garbage cans. Flimsy garbage cans will not stand up to powerful bear strength. Purchase two tie down straps for each garbage can. Look for heavy duty tie down straps in the automotive or hardware aisles. You can use either the ratcheting or clamping style of tie down straps. Place the straps over the garbage can lid in a crisscross method. Otherwise the bear will simply use his claws to pull them off. Make sure the straps are tight and wont slip! Often bears drag full garbage cans long distances damaging the straps or working them loose. Further secure your garbage can by fastening it to a tree, cemented post, fence or other strong post.
Maintain your Garbage Can
Clean garbage cans when they start to smell. Eliminating garbage odor helps detour bears from your property. Obtain new garbage cans after bears damage them beyond safe functionality. Bears will use their teeth in attempt to pry the lid off. After awhile holes might become large enough for a bear to get his nose in. Try calling waste management to get a replacement. Workers may replace the lid or garbage can at no charge.
Don’t Harm the Bear
Don’t shoot or poison the bear just because he’s into your trash. Penalties will be issued if you kill a bear without proper cause. A bear raiding your trash is not enough cause to shoot a bear lawfully. Call Alaska State Troopers first if possible. Use good judgment with all bear encounters.
Alska State Troopers
Deer Mountain Landfill