Dillingham's fish waste bin successfully deters bears

Oct 10, 2018

This summer, the City of Dillingham moved the fish waste bin inside an enclosure by the landfill and limited hours of access in an effort to deter bears from feasting on salmon remains. And it worked.

Brown bears.
Credit ADF&G

ADF&G area management biologist Neil Barten briefed the Dillingham City Council at the October meeting last week.

“They had a cleared off spot for the dumpster, they had a fence around it for the off hours. There was very little available for bears. It was a lot safer, cleaner, nicer for people to dump their fish. And it was kind of a winning situation, from what I can see,” he said.

In previous years the fish bin has been located outside the landfill and was open 24 hours a day. Though convenient, at times it got messy; when it was full, people sometimes put their salmon remains next to the dumpster, not in it. The mess and the exposed location attracted bears.

“It just wasn’t very safe," Barten said. "You go to dump your fish, especially late at night, and you kind of have to have your head on the swivel, because as you dumped in, right behind you there were trails coming out of the bushes, right in front of you there were trails coming out of the bushes. Right in front of you there were trains coming out of the bushes. And the bushes weren’t very far away. So, it was just an unsafe, really, way to handle it.”

According to Barten, the number of bear incidents around town this summer also decreased – a testament to the dumpster’s success.

City council members applauded the volunteers who spearheaded the effort. They also expressed appreciation for Dillingham residents for complying with the safety effort even if the limited hours were less convenient. 

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.