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Consequences
For a number of years bears have been attracted to the alcohol remaining in the
multitude of liquor bottles dumped at the glass recycling plant. Often, their alcohol
consumption led to drunk and disorderly behavior affecting users of Kincaid Park
and the Coastal Trail. The unfortunate result is obvious. There are no known
documented concerns on the part of MOA about this recurring issue.
The wildlife problem has risen from the huge pile of accumulating sugar and other
junk food flowing in with the glass. Although we may have heeded the signs imploring
us to rinse our bottles the truth is that the majority of the bottles are sent directly from
local bars. They are definitely not washed. As the glass is pushed around the bottles
are broken, releasing the beer, wine, whiskey, tequila, tomato juice, etc. In addition,
food waste is often included in the boxes and garbage bags of bottles. As the stuff
started to stack up and accumulate, hungry critters began to take advantage of the
opportunity.
Ravens and magpies joined by squirrels began foraging in the broken bottles.
Weasels, and even a coyote, hung around. In 2008, a family of red foxes denned
nearby and were common scavengers.
Harm to Wildlife
And the bears came. One. Then Two. Then Three. As many as six different black bears
in a single day have shown up at the glass. Anchorage bears are stronger and tougher
than you might think. They are not teddy bears. They climb straight up a tall stack of
broken glass in their bare bear feet. They suck and lick beer and whiskey out of broken
bottles. Bottles and glass shards they are sitting and lying on.
At first they came at night. Then early morning. By mid-summer 2008, they were
swaggering around at noon. At least once a black bruin staggered over to nearby
Clitheroe Alcohol Treatment Center in broad daylight and laid down on the lawn. All the
patients went inside despite it being the one sunny summer day. Apparently they did
not think of a Budweiser beer burping black bear as a brother.
One of the first bears to discover the liquor cache (euphemistically referred to as
"recycled" glass) slowly began to exhibit stranger and stranger behavior. A middle
aged male, he also started coming at night, then early morning, then mid-morning. He
climbed up on a quonset hut near the glass. He went across the road to the east and
climbed the chain link fence around the airport. An approaching taxiing jet with blasting
engine noise persuaded him to climb back down and walk back into the woods
instead.
A few days later he walked west from the "recycled" broken bottles, across the
Anchorage Regional Composting Facility, up and over the high berm, and onto the
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. He attempted to interact with the human trail users.
Understandably that was a one way desire as the people wanted no part of it. As the
days went on his aggressive behavior indicated he was beginning to regard trail users
as trail mix, or perhaps, bar snacks. He began to follow people.
Between 5:00 and 6:00 pm one evening a government agent was called out to protect
the increasingly nervous trail users. Positioning himself on the compost facility, which
lies between the broken booze bottles and the coastal trail, he gunned down Mr. Black
Bear as he was about to once again climb the tall berm over to the public trail.
Full Disclosure: It is possible the reason the bear stopped at a good spot for a clean
safe shot was his interest in the aging deer head Mr. Government Agent had with him.
Bunnies are evidently also considered good bar food by four legged carnivores. For
several years the folks at Anchorage Regional Composting Facility rescued rabbits
from the animal pound, giving them a new lease on life. A few would occasionally be
plucked from the air by hawks or owls, but new litters kept the population at a
sustainable equilibrium. When the incredibly strong bears set up camp, the bunnies
began to disappear. While a fox is unable to out-dig a rabbit, a bear is both strong
enough and quick enough to dispatch several in a day.
A bear enjoys an afternoon libation or two.
Don't drink and pester humans.