Living with Wildlife in Anchorage:
A Cooperative Planning Effort
Chapter 6: Priority Actions (Part 2)
Conflict prevention actions
These eight priority actions (and five supported actions) are designed to minimize the potential for wildlife conflicts. Many are designed to modify human behaviors that lead to human-wildlife conflicts, hoping to minimize the number and severity of conflicts that require responses described in Chapter 5.
The first two actions focus on technical fixes to wildlife conflicts. Both trail and road design can affect the probability of certain kinds of human-wildlife interactions (e.g., moose-vehicle collisions, encounters between recreationists and moose or bears on trails); these actions simply require trail and road designers to consider these issues as new projects are developed.
The remainder of the priority actions in this group focus on education efforts to modify human behaviors that can lead to or exacerbate conflicts. These start with the development of a more substantial urban wildlife program to systematically monitor and develop education efforts to prevent wildlife conflicts. ADF&G currently takes responsibility for conflict prevention in the Anchorage area, but the number and frequency of conflicts in recent years has led the agency to operate in a reactive/response mode rather than a proactive/prevention mode. This plan recommends additional efforts to help wildlife authorities direct more attention to the latter.
The additional actions in this group help define the activities of this expanded program. Recommended actions include developing bear and moose safety education materials and workshops, developing education materials and ordinances to encourage residents to secure bear attractants such as trash, and expanded conflict response training for public safety officers. This program will also enhance education efforts to minimize the impacts of human-wildlife conflicts on wildlife (e.g. programs to limit wildlife feeding and minimize harassment of wildlife by pets).
Other lower priority but supported actions in this group include enhancing small mammal and avian predators to control certain nuisance wildlife species, an education program focused on addressing bird conflicts and injuries, an organized bear trailhead warning program, and the development of a moose-vehicle accident reporting system to heighten awareness of this particular problem.
Readers should note that both moose and bears are expected to be the focus of individual step-down planning efforts expected to be initiated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the winter of 1999-2000. While the focus of moose management planning is likely to be on biological carrying capacity and associated population issues, the focus on bears is more likely to be on conflict prevention and responses. Several of the actions suggested in this plan are designed to work collectively to change both bear and human behaviors that appear to contribute to the increasing level of conflicts.
9. Managing Recreation Use Impacts on Trails: Design Guidelines
Description. This action recommends development of Anchorage trail design guidelines that address potential impacts of recreation use and facilities on wildlife habitat, wildlife recreation quality, and the risk of human-wildlife conflicts. These guidelines would address three central issues:
- Paved multi-use trails (e.g. Chester Creek Trail, Coastal Trail) encourage faster trail travel but also have limited sight distances in certain areas, thus increasing the potential for surprise encounters with wildlife.
- Wider and straighter trails may change the type of wildlife viewing opportunities available and upgrading walking trails to multi-use trails may destroy trailside habitat. Some wildlife viewers (particularly birders) prefer more primitive, narrower trails.
- Wider and more developed trails may have other ecological impacts (e.g., may impede water drainage, cleave contiguous habitat, create impacts that prevent songbird nesting).
This action recognizes that there are different types of recreation trails in Anchorage, and does not advocate wholesale trail re-construction to address the problems outlined above. However, the planning team would like to see a task force develop a short list of wildlife-oriented guidelines that could be used when new trails are being developed (or old ones reconstructed because of maintenance needs).
Responsibilities. The guidelines would be developed with a task force of trail design and trail advocate individuals from a variety of agencies and groups. ADF&G and USFWS habitat biologists and Municipal planners would form the core members of the group, but to be successful the guidelines would also need to be developed in cooperation with trail designers and trail advocacy groups. The National Park Service's Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program and Anchorage Trails Coalition are possible participants.
Schedule. These guidelines would require a series of meetings over a relatively short period (probably less than six months). Assuming that agency participation is available, the action could begin shortly after this plan is finalized. The task force would be expected to produce a "guidelines" document a few months after the meetings have ended, and distribute them to Anchorage trail managing agencies for consideration as trails are developed or reconstructed.
Costs and funding sources. Few direct costs are expected to be needed to complete this action, assuming that agencies are willing to donate some staff time to attend the series of meetings and write sections of the guidelines document. It might make sense to have one agency (or a consultant) lead and coordinate these meetings, in which case $5,000 to $10,000 might help compensate for staff time dedicated to the action. In addition, it might cost about $2,000 to professionally edit, print and distribute the final guidelines. This funding may be available from the participating wildlife or trail agencies; the NPS Rivers and Trails Assistance program specializes small, cooperative projects and has annual funding available on a competitive basis.
10. Road Improvements to Prevent Moose-Vehicle Collisions
Description. This action involves two phases. First, it would convene a task force from relevant agencies to review known information about moose-vehicle collisions in the Anchorage area and identify priorities for roadside improvements that might reduce their number. Potential improvements include lighting, passive and active warning systems, fencing, or the creation of parallel moose trails to discourage moose crossings in certain areas.
Second, it would integrate task force recommendations into the on-going road reconstruction projects being led by the State Department of Transportation through the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Potential upcoming projects include several roads where ADF&G has documented repeated moose-vehicle accidents, including:
- DeArmoun Road (Westside to Hillside Road). O'Malley Road (New Seward Highway to Hillside Road). Old Glenn Highway (North Eagle River Interchange to Peters Creek). Eagle River Loop Road (Old Glenn to Eagle River Road). Abbott Road (Lake Otis to Birch Road). Eagle River Road (MP 5.3 to MP 12.6). Huffman Road (Old Seward to Lake Otis Parkway).
These projects are in various phases of development, with the earliest on-the-ground construction planned for 2002, while other projects may be five to seven years from preliminary engineering to construction. All of these projects involve Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funds, which have well established planning, design, and construction procedures. Integrating options designed to reduce moose-vehicle accidents is possible, but needs to occur early in the process. In past years, ADF&G review of these projects has been generally limited to habitat impacts (particularly regarding wetlands and effects on aquatic resources); under this action, additional expertise developed during the first phase of the action will be integrated into the planning and design efforts.
Rationale. Moose accidents are a considerable problem in Anchorage. In the survey of residents (Whittaker and Manfredo, 1997), while 69% reported that moose populations were not too high, majorities nonetheless reported that there were too many moose deaths from accidents (60%) and too many moose-vehicle accidents (54%). Survey results also showed that many residents (54%) were willing to pay a $10 dollars per year per vehicle increase in registration fees for highway improvements to address this problem. While these fees were not actually being proposed (they were included in the question to suggest a realistic payment format for people to use in weighing the financial costs of these improvements), support for the fees indicates significant interest in spending public money on these kinds of remedies.
Responsibilities. The first phase of this action would be led by ADF&G, but would require participation from DOT and other city and state public works experts to be successful. The second phase of the action is ongoing and long term, and would require additional ADF&G staff resources to participate more intensively in road reconstruction planning and design. It is possible that these staff resources could be integrated with the staff requirements of Action 6 (habitat review program), and the position could be cooperatively-funded through the Municipality's planning department.
Schedule. ADF&G envisions a series of 4-5 short meetings over the course of a six month period to complete the first part of this action. Pilot programs and continued monitoring of accidents would then be considered over the next several years, with perhaps a single annual meeting to review whether certain options appear to be successful. Implementation of useful options would then be integrated into more extensive projects that follow from established DOT project schedules.
Costs and funding sources. Task force costs would be minor, but it does require commitment of staff time from the relevant agencies. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) funding cannot be used to implement pilot projects or planning, although costs to implement improvements may be covered by FHWA reconstruction funds if those were integrated into planning and design efforts programmed through the AMATS Transportation Improvement Program.
Constraints. There is considerable environmental compliance work involved with any major reconstruction project, and this would also apply to possible moose accident prevention remedies such as increased lighting, fences, active warning systems, or even passive warning signs. The task force would focus on developing a list of possible issues, which could then be explored in subsequent pilot projects. Note: Implementing moose accident prevention projects on roads that are not being reconstructed is also possible in Anchorage, but would face both funding and environmental compliance hurdles because of the well-established procedures for road development through FHWA.
11. Create an Urban Wildlife Specialist Position
Description. This action would create and fund one or more urban wildlife specialists within ADF&G or the Municipality. This specialist would oversee a series of conflict prevention education efforts and be able to help ADF&G respond to conflict situations. Examples of tasks include promoting positive aspects of wildlife in the city (including wildlife viewing areas and education), training school administrators and school children in moose safety, educating residents about bear/garbage problems and enforcing the recommended bear attractant garbage ordinance (see Action 12), coordinating Canada goose and nonnative/feral animal control programs (see Chapter 5), educating residents and visitors about habitatfriendly landscaping and available funding for habitat restoration, and coordinating with the Habitat Consequences Review Program (Action 6).
Rationale. Anchorage is like many other cities with growing populations of Canada geese, pigeons, and other nuisance birds. Anchorage is unique in that it also has several species of large, potentially dangerous mammals – moose, brown bear, black bear, and wolves – that frequent residential areas. However, local government has no staff dedicated to wildlife education or conflict prevention and response. Some similar-sized cities in the Lower 48 and Canada have urban wildlife specialists to focus on these issues; this action is needed to provide much-needed, similar levels of public service.
Responsibilities. The State or the Municipality could employ an urban wildlife specialist. If employed by the state, the position would be a Wildlife Biologist I or II under the supervision of the Anchorage Area Biologist. If employed by the Municipality, the position could be assigned to the Cultural and Recreational Services department; however, the person’s duties would also include planning, enforcement, and coordination outside of city park boundaries. A municipal wildlife biologist would also be expected to serve as a liaison with state and federal wildlife biologists with jurisdiction in Anchorage. While financial and political barriers complicate the creation of this position in either state or local government, the planning team re-emphasizes the need for it.
Schedule. This action could be implemented within a few months of funding, and would be on-going. In future years, this program might need to be expanded to two or three positions in response to workload demands and community support.
Costs and Funding Sources. Annual salary, benefits, and support equipment for a Wildlife Biologist I costs about $50,000. Potential funding sources might include CARA, state or local appropriations.
Constraints. As noted above, even aside from funding for this type of position, considerable jurisdictional/institutional issues need to be resolved concerning the location of the program. There are advantages and disadvantages to housing it in either the Municipality or ADF&G; in either case, cooperative agreements and recognition of joint wildlife responsibilities are necessary for the person to be able to successfully complete the varied and cross-boundary tasks.
12. Moose & Bear Encounter Safety Program
Description. Anchorage’s relatively high turnover rate of its human population present a challenge to the task of public wildlife safety education. However, if Anchorage is going to “live with wildlife,” the pubic must learn more about how to respond to wildlife encounters. A program to educate Anchorage residents and visitors on how to avoid and respond to wildlife interactions is the focus of this action, which would coordinate existing education efforts, and develop new materials and programs. Elements of this action include:
- Distribution of existing information. Products such as ADF&G’s Bear Facts pamphlet, State Park’s Playing the odds in bear country poster, British Columbia’s Ministry of Forestry’s Bear Aware video, and other existing products need to be made more readily available to the public in an economically feasible manner.
- Work with the media. Agency representatives, biologists, park rangers, Anchorage police officers and others need to cooperate with the media (print, TV, radio) to increase awareness of wildlife safety issues. Talking points include: treatment of food and refuse, recognizing signs of animals and their emotional states, avoiding animals, proper response in encounter situations, and respect for wildlife.
- Special programs. Special programs on wildlife safety given by biologists, researchers, or park rangers are generally well-attended and reach the critical audience of outdoor recreationists. These programs should be held each spring when the public is thinking about upcoming summer outings, but is kept in town by breakup. Weeknight programs may have the highest attendance. Program locations could include the Wilda Marston Theater, REI, Eagle River Nature Center, Campbell Creek Science Center, Rabbit Creek Rifle Range, the Anchorage Convention Center, or the Alaska Public Lands Information Center (APLIC). These programs could also be coordinated with the Anchorage Wildlife Festival (see Action 17).
- Teach wildlife safety in the schools. Continue and expand efforts to teach school children about “living with wildlife.” Develop special tools for teachers; these could be coordinated with expanded wildlife education efforts for schools, some of which already exist through state and cooperative (APLIC) programs (see Action 19).
- Community warning programs. The community of Girdwood has independently convened interested publics in an informal bear warning program to help residents recognize when bears have been active in certain neighborhoods. They have a “bear log book” in the community post office, and developed signs to be posted in areas where bears have been recently seen. While this model may be less applicable in areas with larger populations, increasing awareness of bear conflict potential is likely to be useful in any case.
Responsibilities. Wildlife safety education efforts are not currently coordinated among Anchorage wildlife agencies; under this action the Urban Wildlife Specialist (see Action 11) would organize and integrate these and other agency efforts.
Costs and funding options. Aside from the salary costs associated with the urban wildlife specialist (covered in Action 11), there are few additional specific costs associated with this action. There are likely to be some costs associated with developing and printing additional brochures and posters, or renting locations for workshops, but these could be cooperatively distributed among the several agencies that would use these materials. Corporate or non-profit contributions are possible sources of funding for some of these materials.
13. Bear Attractant Ordinance and Education Program
Description. Anchorage currently has an ordinance to deter people from attracting bears into residential areas and city parks, but it is rarely enforced. This action recommends amending the existing ordinance to include all sources of bear attractants (such as summer bird feeders and outdoor pet foods), and increasing both enforcement and education efforts to help establish city-wide behavior norms for securing bear attractants. The ordinance would likely recognize geographic areas where bear attractant issues are more and less severe, and thus require correspondingly more and less stringent regulations.
Rationale. The Municipality has an ordinance that requires residents to keep garbage away from wild animals and state law prohibits bear feeding. However, the ordinance is seldom, if ever, enforced and the state has not prosecuted violators unless they have been personally warned not to feed bears by public safety officers. Many Anchorage residents are careless about storing garbage and pet food. Bears are entering residential areas in increasing numbers to eat garbage, pet food, and birdseed, and are becoming bolder. Black bears only recently learned to eat birdseed in the Anchorage area. Since 1995 this has become one of the most common bear attractants.
At least 250 black bears live in the Anchorage area. Perhaps one-third of these bears spend at least part of the summer in or adjacent to residential areas. Subdivisions are also expanding into bear habitat. Many Anchorage residents tolerate, or even enjoy, having a few black bears in the neighborhood. However, about one-third believe there are too many bear encounters on trails and in neighborhoods, and a majority believe too many bears are getting into garbage (Whittaker and Manfredo, 1997). In discussions with wildlife staff, they express concern about pets and livestock as well as the risk to human safety, especially small children playing in yards. Black bears also kill several dogs and many domestic rabbits, chickens, and ducks each year. The risk to human safety is low, but not unfounded. Black bears have stalked people, even in Anchorage, and people in other places have been occasionally attacked and killed by black bears.
Bears may be legally shot in defense of life or property, including livestock and pets. An increasing number of black bears are shot in Anchorage every year, mostly by homeowners. From 1991 to 1994, 13 black bears were shot, about 3 per year. From 1995 to 1998, at least 38 black bears were shot, about 10 per year. Some of these shootings were not justified, and missed shots have endangered neighbors.
The most important factor in reducing dangerous black bear-human encounters is to stop attracting the bears into town. Other communities with similar problems have enacted ordinances to encourage residents to store garbage properly. A focused public awareness program may also decrease problems, at least to a point, but education coupled with enforced regulations offers the best hope of changing this human behavior.
Responsibilities. Any bear-attractant ordinance must be introduced and passed by the Municipality Assembly and signed by the Mayor; it would have to be enforced by city public safety officials. A bear awareness education program could be led by ADF&G, although current staff levels within wildlife education sections are insufficient. In order to carry out this action, funding of the Urban Wildlife Specialist described in Action 11 would also need to occur.
Schedule. An amendment to the garbage ordinance was drafted in 1996, but was never enacted due to a combination of public apathy and some active opposition. A new amendment would have to follow the Municipality’s ordinance process, which takes three months to a year, depending upon its complexity and public support. As with any action that requires approval from a political body, predicting a precise schedule can be difficult.
Costs and Funding Sources. Under this action, homeowners and businesses would pay costs, if necessary, for rental or purchase of adequate garbage storage containers on their property. (Anchorage Refuse rents proper garbage enclosures for $10/month.) Municipal parks contain hundreds of garbage receptacles without lids that might also need to be replaced, in areas likely to be visited by bears. These would have to be purchased by the city ($50,000 - $200,000 depending on number and type), suggesting that there are also significant government costs associated with this action. Innovative funding sources might be used for these purchases, however, with receptacles sponsored by organizations or businesses (similar to groups that have volunteered to clean-up road segments). Additional costs for education efforts under this alternative might run between $5,000 and $10,000 per year for developing printed materials, bumper stickers, and so on. Increasing city wide awareness and compliance will be challenging and not inexpensive.
Constraints. New laws and increased enforcement will receive resistance among some people in the community, particularly homeowners and businesses in bear areas where the ordinance/education efforts would be directed. While general public support for this action appears likely, specific support for an ordinance might be less. Education efforts, without supporting regulations and enforcement, are unlikely to be effective.
14. Moose/Bear Conflict Response Training
Description. A variety of public safety and other officials have responsibilities to interact with wildlife in conflict situations. The Anchorage Police Department (APD) and State Troopers may often be the first to arrive at a situation, while airport police, military base officials, city parks and recreation officials, and school officials may also be required to respond quickly and appropriately to wildlife problems. This action would provide training so that when these individuals respond, they know what to do, and when to call for help from ADF&G or the proposed Urban Wildlife Specialist.
This action envisions two half-day training sessions annually that allow members of a variety of organizations to take advantage of the program. Certification would be provided. The ultimate goal is to have all on-the-ground public safety officers in the city receive periodic conflict response training.
Rationale: Decision-making by untrained public safety officers can lead to less-than-humane wildlife conflict responses, or may increase public safety risks. There is the potential for lack of consistency in how situations are handled, which may add to the difficulty of communicating to the public how to respond to wildlife conflict situations.
Responsibilities. ADF&G, or the proposed new Urban Wildlife Specialist, would organize and conduct the training, while target agencies would be cooperators in requesting their staff to attend. The list of agencies which might benefit from these kinds of training workshops include: APD, state troopers, airport police, Elmendorf and Fort Richardson military police, Chugach Park rangers, Municipal Parks and Recreation race officials, and representatives from Anchorage schools.
Costs and funding sources. Training costs would be relatively small, but would include staff time to prepare and conduct efforts. However, the time that participating agencies would need to dedicate to have their staff participate may be considerable, depending upon the number that attend. Training facilities would also need to be determined; the hope is that those may be available through existing training infrastructure at APD or the troopers.
Constraints. Public safety officers already undergo considerable training, and must make choices in how to budget their training hours. Although this training effort is likely to be short, there will be challenges in developing police and trooper cooperation and support for these efforts.
15. Wildlife Feeding Education and Regulations
Description. This action envisions the development of multimedia materials on the problems caused by human feeding of wildlife. It also recommends the development of city or state regulations that prohibit certain kinds of wildlife feeding, or increased enforcement of existing regulations.
The contemplated education campaign could be coordinated with the goose outreach plan that has thoroughly considered target audiences, messages, themes, and sources. Persuasion campaigns of this type are most effective when they utilize multiple channels, come from multiple sources, and target multiple groups.
Enforcement efforts could also be improved, but regulations associated with education efforts are more likely to establish new behavior norms. It is obvious that residents need to “police” each other for this to work. The development of volunteer efforts to warn and tell people about the problems with feeding wildlife are an additional possibility.
This education effort may also include information about habitat-friendly landscaping in contrast to landscaping that may encourage wildlife nuisance problems.
Rationale. While some wildlife feeding ordinances exist, few are seriously enforced, and there is no significant education campaign to discourage feeding aside from some passive signs at popular feeding areas. This action recognizes that considerably more could be done to discourage a behavior that generally works to decrease wildlife diversity, may harm individual animals (who eat less nutritionallyrich foods, may lose their ability to secure natural food, and may alter their natural migration patterns), and attracts wildlife concentrations that can become a nuisance or affect natural wildlife behavior.
Responsibilities. This action would be co-led by ADF&G, USFWS, and the Municipality (particularly if the wildlife specialist is housed there).
Costs and Funding Sources. Costs should be relatively small and could be associated with the proposed Urban Wildlife Specialist position. Materials and signage are estimated to run about $10,000 per year.
16. Pet Control Education and Enforcement
Description. This action recommends development of a public education campaign and multimedia materials focused on the problems that loose dogs and cats create for wildlife. This action would be coordinated with the Municipal Animal Control to distribute information about existing regulations, as well as consider further opportunities for expanding education efforts. This campaign could also involve coordination with the Anchorage School District to develop optional curricula materials which address skill development under the theme of pet responsibility and wildlife stewardship.
Some of the conflicts that will be addressed in these materials and programs include: free-roaming cats killing birds, effects on overpopulation of cats and dogs caused by unaltered free-roaming pets, dogs harassing moose calves and other wildlife, attraction of animals like magpies and bears to open pet food, effects of dogs and cats on ground-nesting birds, and the effects of trampling and pet waste to sensitive wetlands and streams. Methods to protect birds, wildlife, and their habitats from the adverse effects of uncontrolled pets will also be covered, as well as adverse effects on pets and humans (e.g. aggressive moose encounters) caused by failure to control pets, and alternative methods of exercise and confinement for pets.
Possible materials include a slide show or video for use in schools, community council and other civic meetings; regular television, radio, sign (e.g., People Mover buses), and print media announcements; news media stories; brochures; and school curricula materials. Ball caps, t-shirts, and other attractive ways to involve the public would also be considered, as would fair booths and other similar participation in public events. This campaign may be coordinated with other Living with Wildlife Plan actions, such as the Anchorage Wildlife Festival (Action 17).
Rationale. This action addresses several of the goals of the plan, including conserving optimal populations of native wildlife and their habitats, minimizing human-wildlife conflicts, and fostering a sense of stewardship for wildlife and their habitats among the public.
As human population size grows, so do the pet population and the number of pet-wildlife conflicts. These conflicts can pose dangers to pets, humans, wildlife, and wildlife habitat. Each year in the United States hundreds of millions of birds are killed by free-roaming cats. Millions of small mammals are similarly killed, causing the loss of important food sources for such wildlife as weasels, owls, and lynx. Anchorage’s sensitive wetlands and fish-bearing streams also face increasing adverse effects from pet waste and trampling.
Anchorage has more than 50,000 dogs and 35,000 cats. Most are not a problem, but unsupervised dogs and cats can affect wildlife. Dogs chase moose, injuring adults and sometimes killing calves. Many cat owners also let their pets run free, and yet they are unaware of the true extent of killing. Others may mistakenly assume that only “common” bird species are affected, or be unaware that if one mate is killed, it can mean the entire nest fails. A study of cat predation in a rural area of southern Sweden found about 100 cats killed about 40,000 voles and mice, 3,500 rabbits and hares, and hundreds of birds in an average year.
Responsibilities. This action would allow the widest possible opportunity for education on these issues by taking the form of a coordinated campaign. Lead agencies would be ADF&G and USFWS, in cooperation with the Municipality (perhaps including public service announcements by city officials such as the Mayor), Animal Control, and possibly the Anchorage School District. Officials or staff from APLIC, ANHA, Campbell Creek Science Center, and other facilities with wildlife education responsibilities may also want to be involved.
Schedule. This action would take at least six months to implement once funding is secured and depending on other duties of staff. Implementation involves choosing staff, research, coordination among agencies and offices, creation of materials, and distribution to or sharing with the public.
Costs and Funding sources. Assuming that some staff time could be donated by agencies, initial improvement in educational efforts might cost about $20,000 per year. Depending on the scope of the campaign and the level of integration and coordination with other agencies, additional salary, materials, and media costs could range as high as $40,000 per year. Potential funding sources may include CARA.
Constraints. Funding sources may not be able to support staff time. Agencies may not be able to dedicate staff time.
Other Supported Conflict Prevention and Response Actions
Avian and Small Mammal Predator Enhancement. This idea reflects planning team interest in maintaining population levels of small mammal and avian predators (e.g., wolverines, martens, hawks, owls, peregrines) in Anchorage, which help reduce populations of some nuisance wildlife such as feral rabbits and pigeons. Enhancement options generally focus on habitat protection which is expected to be developed from the habitat assessment effort (Action 1).
Injured Bird and Bird Conflict Program. This action calls for increased funding for injured bird treatment and education programs to be utilized by existing non-profit organizations and USFWS programs. These programs are chronically under-funded, but have the potential to offer important dividends for individual birds, bird populations, and residents and visitors who are interested in avian wildlife.
Trailhead Bear Warning Program. This action would develop a simple “bear hazard” information system at area trailheads. The planning team envisions a system similar to fire hazard warnings used in National Forests across the country (“the fire danger today is…low, medium, high”). Although trail managers have concerns about suggesting that bear dangers are ever “low,” there is little question that trail users would be interested in knowing whether there have been recent sightings in the area. This action cannot be implemented unless there is an Urban Wildlife Specialist for Anchorage who can coordinate such a system, as well as volunteers to make it work. This action is not a priority action because of these and liability concerns. Additional discussions among Chugach State Park officials, ADF&G, the proposed Urban Wildlife Specialist, and trail users groups will be needed to implement it in the future.
Neighborhood Moose Warning Assistance. Moose occasionally become stubborn and obstinately block the use of school bus stops or walking routes in neighborhoods. This program could help neighborhoods organize systems for warning families of the presence of these hazardous animals and arrange for developing alternative places for kids to be picked up. These programs will always need to be neighborhood-based and staffed by residents as volunteers, but the proposed Urban Wildlife Specialist could develop guidelines for organizing such groups.
Moose Accident Prevention: Education Options. In addition to road improvements, it may also be possible to increase awareness of moose-vehicle accident risks on certain roads by disseminating information about where accidents tend to occur and how often. For example, newspapers on the Kenai Peninsula habitually provide moose accident statistics for the area, although these are not broken out by road. Although the planning team believes the effectiveness of such efforts will be limited (most moose accidents occur on commuter roads by people who drive them every day and can easily become complacent about the hazard), any increased awareness might help.