Prevent Bear Issues This Summer: Start Spring Cleaning Now
— ADF&G Press Release

Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811-5526

Press Release: April 4, 2019

CONTACT: Ken Marsh, (907) 267-2892,

Prevent Bear Issues This Summer: Start Spring Cleaning Now

April 4, 2019 (Statewide) — It's an official sign of springtime in Alaska: Bears are stirring in Southeast, Kodiak, and Southcentral, according to reports received by local Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices. And it won't be long before mild days rouse bears up North and out West, too. That's the cue for Alaskans to ramp up their "bear etiquette" by cleaning up food attractants around homes and neighborhoods.

"I would suggest people start their spring cleaning now," said Anchorage Area Wildlife Biologist Dave Battle.

That means bringing in bird feeders and cleaning up spilled seed, removing and securing trash, and making sure bear deterrents like electric fences surrounding poultry or other livestock are operational and turned on.

"If we keep bears out of human-provided food sources now, keep them from developing bad habits early on, we can prevent a lot of problems later on for people and bears alike," Battle said.

Because it's early in the season, natural foods are scarce in many parts of the state. This can make human-provided attractants particularly inviting to waking bears. Feeding bears, even unintentionally, is illegal and can result in fines.

To help prevent bear problems this summer, biologists suggest the following:

  • Garbage — Store trash inside buildings or in bear-proof containers; keep secured until the day of scheduled pickup. If using a large Dumpster with latching lids, it's time to start latching the lid every time after depositing trash. Encourage neighbors to do the same.
  • Electric fences — Properly constructed electric fences can keep bears out of gardens, compost, and away from buildings, chicken coops, and domestic animals. For more information, contact your local department office or visit the webpage at
  • Barbecues — Clean barbecue grills, especially grease traps, after each use.
  • Pets — Feed pets indoors or clean up excess and spilled food between meals. Store pet food, livestock food, and birdseed indoors or in bear-resistant containers.
  • Bird Feeders — Take feeders down April through October, store out of bears' reach and remove spilled seed.
  • Freezers — Keep freezers locked in a secure building or otherwise out of bears' reach.
  • Gardens — Plant gardens in the open, away from cover and game trails. Only compost raw vegetable matter and turn over compost frequently.

In addition to taking preventative measures, residents should report incidents of bears frequenting neighborhoods or other populated areas, getting into trash, or showing aggression. Contact the nearest Alaska Department of Fish and Game office during regular business hours or report online at If the situation involves an immediate public safety concern, call 911.

"So many situations go unreported, or we hear rumors days later via social media," said Battle. "We want to know any time brown bears are seen in town or populated areas, and people should let us know whenever they see bears in trash or feeding on human provided food."

To learn more about coexisting with bears, call or visit your local department office or see the webpages at