Illegally Discarded Fish Waste Can Draw Bears, Big Fines for Violators
- ADF&G Press Release

Cora Campbell, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811
Phone: (907) 465-6166 - Fax: (907) 465-2332

Press Release: June 26, 2013

Regional Contacts:

Jessy Coltrane, Anchorage, 267-2811
Jeff Selinger, Soldotna, 262-9368
Tim Peltier, Palmer, 746-6327

Sport Fish:
Dan Bosch, Anchorage, 267-2153
Robert Begich, Soldotna, 262-9368
Sam Ivey, Palmer, 746-6300

Illegally Discarded Fish Waste Can Draw Bears, Big Fines for Violators

(Anchorage) - As salmon return by the thousands to rivers like the Copper, Kenai, Kasilof and Russian, anglers and dipnetters are reminded that improperly disposing of fish waste by discarding it on public or private property violates state law and can draw bears into areas frequented by the public. Violators may be subject to fines ranging from $300 to $1,000.

Each summer the Department of Fish and Game receives reports of fish waste dumped in neighborhoods and on public lands throughout Southcentral Alaska. This illegal activity is a public safety concern as fish waste can draw bears to an area from more than a mile away.

“We had one instance a couple of summers ago where a guy got charged by a brown bear off of Fairview Loop outside of Wasilla,” said Palmer wildlife biologist Tim Peltier. “We went in to investigate and found the bear had been defending a pile of (illegally discarded) salmon carcasses.”

In Anchorage, where large numbers of people live in close proximity to bears, illegally discarded fish waste appears in vacant lots, in greenbelt parks, and on local lakeshores.

“People may not realize they are putting other people in danger when they illegally dump fish or fish waste, but this is a serious public safety issue,” said Jessy Coltrane, Anchorage area wildlife biologist. “Fish waste attracts bears, and bears may defend these food sources if people accidentally come near.”

Soldotna wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger says he encounters illegally discarded fish waste each summer and that it can set the stage for bear conflicts in Kenai Peninsula communities. He offers an easy solution for anglers and dipnetters participating in area fisheries: “Toss your fish waste into the Soldotna (Central Peninsula) landfill,” Selinger said, “it’s free.”

Another danger created by moving fish waste from drainage to drainage is the potential to introduce fish pathogens into stream systems, endangering local salmonids, said Dan Bosch, Anchorage area biologist for the Division of Sport Fish. “Dumping fish waste into any other stream is not a proper method of disposal,” said Bosch.

Anglers who clean fish on site are encouraged to chop the fish carcasses into numerous pieces and throw them into fast-moving water. Anglers who remove fish from the fishing site and fillet or process them somewhere else should follow these recommendations to dispose of fish waste in a safe manner:

  • If allowed, fish waste should be taken directly to a waste transfer station or to the landfill. Another good option is to freeze fish waste to eliminate odors and then place it out with garbage on the morning of trash pickup. Do not place waste out the night before trash pickup.
  • The Central Peninsula Landfill located at Mile 98.5 Sterling Highway 2.5 miles south of Soldotna accepts fish waste free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Fish waste can also be deposited at Peninsula transfer facilities, including those in Cooper Landing, Kasilof, and Niniilchik, but in smaller quantities; all fish waste must be bagged in plastic trash bags with a limit of two bags dropped off per day.
  • Anchorage Regional Landfill, the city’s Central Transfer Station, and the Girdwood Transfer Station all accept residential, non-commercial fish waste.
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough Solid Waste takes residential, non-commercial fish waste at all facilities, but it must be bagged. The central landfill location serves Palmer/Wasilla, with transfer stations located in Big Lake, Butte, and Sutton.


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