Dillingham is moving its summer fish bin to cut down on bear traffic

May 31, 2018

The fish gut dumpster will operate within the landfill enclosure this year in order to deter bears.

Dillingham's fish bin used to sit outside the landfill, and it was a bear attractant.
Credit ALLISON MOLLENKAMP

With summer subsistence fishing kicking off, the City of Dillingham is revamping fish gut disposal. In previous summers, a dumpster dedicated to salmon remnants has been located outside the landfill and open 24 hours per day. It was convenient—both for humans and wildlife.

“The fish bin people are familiar with from the past several years really has turned into a food source for bears,” said Dillingham city councilman Paul Liedberg, who spearheaded an effort to move the dumpster.

This year, in order to deter bears, the fish bin will sit inside Dillingham’s landfill enclosure. Access will be limited, and there will be an additional electric fence surrounding it.

Local wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Neil Barten, said that these changes will limit misuse of the fish bin.

“Almost every season we have times when the dumpsters are full. People are putting totes outside the dumpster or five gallon buckets of fish or sometimes they just dump the fish right on the ground,” explained.

The fish bin will be open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm Friday through Tuesday and from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Wednesday and Thursday.

Though Barten anticipates some frustration at the reduced hours, he stressed that it is a necessary measure to ensure safety.

“It kind of comes down to the safety of people as well as the treatment of bears. When you do the best you can to not lure them in you don’t have near as many problems with public safety or bears being killed for no reason at all.”

The fish bin is not currently open for dumping, but the City of Dillingham says it should be up and running in the coming weeks.

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