Alaska News

Fish waste attracting hungry bears

As summer fishing peaks, the state is asking people not to discard their bear-attracting fish waste in Anchorage neighborhoods and waterways.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game receives reports of illegally dumped salmon waste every summer, said Ken Marsh, a sport fishing information officer with the agency.

What seems to happen, said Marsh, is people catch fish out of town and do their filleting in Anchorage. Some try to dispose of the resulting pile of fish waste in inappropriate places.

"They turn up in little dead ends and woodlots and neighborhoods and stuff," Marsh said. "Obviously they attract bears."

Biologists said discarded waste also presents a serious safety issue -- bears attracted by fish waste will defend their food sources.

Marsh said with 196,000 sockeye salmon entering the Kenai River on Monday and weather improving, many people will be fishing -- and filleting -- this week.

"The rush is on," he said.


Last summer, around this time, someone dumped a huge pile of fish carcasses at the edge of Sand Lake near a home, Marsh said.

Last week, Marsh fielded a call from a woman who found her dog rolling in a pile of dumped fish guts behind a home in the Kempton Hills subdivision of South Anchorage.

Another caller recently reported a pile of fish waste left in Campbell Creek near the Arctic Boulevard bridge.

Campbell Creek and other waterways seem to be especially popular dumping spots, Marsh said, which is especially bad because the fish waste can introduce pathogens from other streams into the water.

Improperly discarding fish is against state and municipal laws and violators can be subject to files ranging from $300 to $1,000, Marsh said.

Fish and Game recommends taking waste directly to a waste transfer station or the landfill, or to freeze fish waste then put it out for trash pickup the morning of the pickup (not the night before).

Anchorage Daily News /