Old Harbor is on its way to making itself more bear-proof with new landfill improvements.

“We have a problem with bears in general,” said Angie Christiansen, Old Harbor Tribal Council environmental coordinator. “There’s a lot of bear and human interaction.”

Thanks to a Tribal Wildlife grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bears will no longer be able to access the landfill — a problem when bears get a taste of garbage.

“When they get hungry and eat garbage they’re going to find it anywhere they can,” Christiansen said. “We always have issues with bears and stealing people’s dry fish or deer meat.”

In the last couple of years bears would find their way to the dump and wouldn’t hibernate because they had food available.

“They just lived up there,” Christiansen said.

The problems have been greatly reduced thanks to the use of a burn box, and solar powered electrical fencing will also help keep bears away.

“We’re purchasing electric fences for community loan-out where they’re smoking their fish,” Christiansen said. “They’ll be available to the community for free to put around their subsistence foods.”

Christiansen said it’s a long process to re-educate the bears, but she’s excited to have the funding available to decrease the interactions between humans and bears.

The fences, as well as an electrified chain link fence to be completed around the landfill, will be ready in the spring or summer depending on weather. Old Harbor also plans on building an educational component specific to Kodiak villages for bear safety.

Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at lgarcia@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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