The Haines Borough Finance Committee recommended the Solid Waste Working Group look into providing public access to dumpsters when the landfill is closed.

“I’m thinking we have occasional problems with bears getting into dumpsters and residences and we have a need of getting that disposed of and picked up,” assembly member Paul Rogers said. “When (Community Waste Solutions) is not open we need to have a way for people to get rid of it in a reasonable manner.”

CWS is currently open three days a week.

The decision comes after the Finance Committee discussed recommendations from the Bear Task Force, which also included having the borough assist Community Waste Solutions with the construction of a perimeter electric fence around the landfill.

Borough clerk and interim manager Alekka Fullerton said to her knowledge, the areas where attractants are located at the landfill are fenced off, but other areas remain unfenced.

“Parts (that are) not fenced are the parts where they have the glass and the tires and the construction materials, inert materials that we wouldn’t expect would be bear attractants,” Fullerton said.

Committee members were unsure why fencing those areas, a cost projected at nearly $24,000, was necessary.

“I think we need additional information,” Josephson said. “I (am) confused because we have been informed on multiple occasions that the bear attractant area has been fenced.”

The committee requested further information before making a decision.

The last recommendation the committee discussed was whether to investigate the hire of a seasonal wildlife technician or contractor who specialize in bear-conflict mitigation. In Juneau, the community saw a decrease in bear activity after it hired seasonal community service officers who worked to educate the public about bear safety and patrolled for unsecured attractants, according to a Juneau-based Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife education specialist who attended last month’s bear task force meeting.

The Finance Committee agreed to take up the question during next year’s budget discussions.

The recommendations come after police have responded to more than 350 bear calls this year, a 600% increase compared to an average year, according to police chief Heath Scott. Bears have caused thousands of dollars in property damage including homes, vehicles, outbuildings and commercial storage units.