It should come as no surprise to anyone in Skagway that we live in bear country. Bear safety and
appropriate waste management should be a top priority of our local government. Skagway’s lack of
a coherent policy for dealing with bears and garbage is a failure on the part of the Municipality and the community. 

Almost 20 years ago, Chief Ray Leggett began a program of installing bear-proof dumpsters around town. I remember high school students working with the chief to develop educational aids for this issue. But somehow, in the ensuing years, the program was set aside and forgotten. 

Now, apparently, City Hall’s only policy is to write tickets to merchants whose dumpster’s get knocked over, and in some of the cases, those merchants have paid extra money to the Municipality to provide them with bear-proof dumpsters. When the bear knocked over the Red Onion’s dumpster, I called the city and asked what their recommendation was. I was told that chaining and strapping the lids has not worked. They had no recommendation. 

As a result, we have attempted to find our own solutions. At one of our dumpster sites, we have driven bolts into the concrete pad and chained the dumpster to the pad. At another site, we chained the dumpster to a nearby fence. However, when the public works crew comes to empty the dumpsters three times a week, the chains and straps are not replaced. Will it take a little longer and incur a little more payroll to replace the chains and straps? Yes. For sure. Is it worth it? I think it is. I’m also sure better solutions can be found. We are not the first community to deal with this problem. It all comes down to priorities. 

Please take action and make bear-safe handling of garbage a top priority for our community. 

Thank you,
Jan Wrentmore 

This letter was also submitted to the Skagway Assembly