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Numerous black bears spotted near an Anchorage senior living facility

 Photo courtesy by Dana Adkins
Photo courtesy by Dana Adkins (KTUU)
Published: Jun. 6, 2017 at 3:50 PM AKDT
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Dana Adkins was visiting her grandmother at Prestige Care & Rehabilitation Center of Anchorage this week, when she spotted a family of black bears trying to gain access to the building's bear-proof dumpsters.

"They (dumpsters) have a bar across it, but it can still lift up slightly. And if there's any piece of little bag sticking out, then they (bears) grab it and pull it out," converses Adkins to her grandmother, in the video. "It's like a teamwork effort, here."

Adkins told KTUU that her grandmother says the bears visit the facility almost daily.

And according to David Saalfeld, a regional wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the department was first contacted about the bears' presence in mid-May. Moreover, Saalfeld says ADF&G determined that there are currently "numerous bears in the area," and not just the one family of three bears that Adkins filmed.

Saalfeld says he first crossed paths with the three bears in the video, near a homeless encampment stationed between Centennial Campground and Prestige Care & Rehabilitation Center of Anchorage. He says the bears were eating trash and food from around the camp, just before ADF&G darted the mother, in order to collar and tag her.

ADF&G says this homeless encampment might have initially led the bears closer to Anchorage's Prestige Care.

AAccording to Renee Oistad, spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department, the CAP team is aware of this specific homeless encampment.

She says, "It's on their list of camps to respond to, so they'll be getting to it shortly."

Saalfeld says people can discourage bears from returning to the senior living facility by "typically removing attractives (sic)," such as improperly stored trash.

When first visiting Anchorage's Prestige Care, Saalfeld says the facility was using a mix of dumpsters that were both resistant, and non-resistant, to bears. He says the non-resistant dumpsters were especially found near the condominiums.

According to Tammy Rose, administrator of Prestige Care & Rehabilitation Center of Anchorage, the facility has "adjusted how trash is thrown away," since the initial bear sightings.

Additionally, to help keep residents aware of any nearby bears, Rose says they send out bear alerts.

Because ADF&G has not received any reports of these black bears showing aggression, Saalfeld says the department will not attempt to move the bears.

He says that bear removal is "not great," because people cannot physically move the animal very far, and a bear might accidentally be moved into another bear's territory.

By forcibly moving a bear, Saalfeld says it is only "moving a problem."

Saalfeld does warn people that while these black bears are not showing any notable signs of aggression, "everyone should always be cautious of bears."