By Carey Restino
A black bear in the Highland Drive area must have thought it struck the motherload last week when it sniffed around a resident’s Subaru and found it full of blueberries weeks before berries ripen around Kachemak Bay.
Jason Herreman, Fish and Game biologist, said the highly motivated bear then did what few manage to do — it opened the car door.
Herreman said the report came in that the bear had gotten into the car and eaten a large amount of the 70 pounds of blueberries that had just been brought to Homer from Anchorage. The next night, the bear returned, only this time, the berries had been moved to the home’s front porch. The crafty bear used its skills to open the house door, too, and get a second helping.
Herreman said it isn’t unheard of for a bear to figure out how to do this things, but it is rare.
“It is unusual,” he said. “Once in a while, we get a smart one that learns how to open doors.”
This was the first report of a nuisance bear in the Highland Drive and West Hill area, Herreman said, but the typical number of summer bear issues have been cropping up around town, he said.
“We’ve had a couple areas where people haven’t done a good job of securing their stuff and bears are getting into the trash,” he said.
Bears are one-trial learners, he said. They only have to find food somewhere once before they understand that trash cans or other human-occupied areas can be sources of sustenance. That’s a problem, not only for residents but for the bears. Trash bears often run into trouble and sometimes have to be shot as they become bolder around humans and start causing problems.
One of the big draws this time of year is fish waste. With dipnetting in full swing, as well as sport fishing, many residents are processing fish, which is particularly appealing to bears.
Herreman advises residents to dispose of fish waste by taking it to the landfill or leaving it in a bear-secure area until you do. Composting fish waste isn’t a good idea, Herreman said, but if you are going to do that, dig a very deep hole as bears have a very keen sense of smell, he said.
Another source of food residents may forget about is birdfeeders. Herreman said there is no such thing as a bear-safe birdfeeder — he’s seen pictures of a bear climbing up a rope the size of someone’s pinky finger — to get to a feeder.
Another place bears get into that residents might not think of is outside freezers. Pet food left outside is a common issue, too.
“Really it’s just a matter of keeping things clean,” he said. “Often, we’ll get a call from someone who’s having a bear problem and their house will be fine, but it’s the neighbor down the hill who is leaving out trash. Then the bear circuits the entire area.”
As for the Highland Drive – West Hill bear, there haven’t been any other reports of the bear breaking into vehicles or homes, but Herreman advises residents in that area to be extra careful. Don’t leave food in your car, consider locking your car doors and house doors — he said. Especially if you happen to have blueberries.
Comments are closed