This bear was sighted in the fall of 2017 in Severson’s Subdivision in Petersburg. (Photo by Shauna Pitta-Rosse)

A black bear has been hanging around an assisted living facility in Petersburg. Law enforcement says it’s a sign that the whole town needs to be prepared. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:

The bear had been coming around the Mountain View Manor for the last couple of weeks. According to staff—who didn’t want to be named–he got into the trash every night and makes himself at home. He’d sit in the middle of the parking lot and not let staff leave the building because he wouldn’t move.

And he was getting braver, coming up to the window.

The Alaska State Wildlife Trooper in Petersburg, Cody Litster, was notified about the bear. Trash in the area was secured and he says the bear moved on.

Litster is not surprised that a bear is showing up in town. He says it’s common this time of year.

“I’ve been here for a couple of years now and it seems what happens is when the fish are kind of past being available in the streams the bears this time of year come into town–especially the young bears–and they make a nuisance of themselves,” Litster said.

Litster does not think there is a safety problem during the day because the bears usually move around at night. He says the best thing residents can do is secure attractants. Besides trash, bears are attracted to feed for animals and pets.

“People need to bring their pet food in and not be feeding animals on their back porch,” he said. “They need to be securing their garbage or maybe not putting their garbage out until the morning that the garbage comes.”

Litster says that it won’t work for just one area of town to be more careful.

“It’s going to need to be everyone because as soon as one neighborhood battens everything down he or she or it will move to the next one,” he said, “and it pretty much becomes a community problem from what I’ve seen over the years. And we don’t want to see these bears habituated. They’re looking for an easy meal and we don’t want to make it too easy on them.”

Law enforcement or wildlife biologists will only capture bears with traps after other measures are tried like securing trash and other attractants.

If you do have a bear problem you’re first contact should be the police department because they have staff answering phone calls 24 hours a day.