KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Hungry bears seeking garbage have been seen in much larger numbers than normal this year and five have been killed so far in 2017, officials said.

The number of bears killed is a 15-year high for the area, The Ketchikan Daily News reported ( ) Wednesday, quoting Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Boyd Porter.

Police killed one of the bears and officers have received constant calls from residents about bears wandering in the city, said Ketchikan Police Chief Joe White.

"I'd say at least two or three calls a day probably," White said. "It's hard to actually shoot and kill bears in neighborhoods because (the neighborhoods) are so highly and densely populated, so we do use bean-bag rounds at times to scare them away."

Porter and White said the most residents need to secure their trash to keep the bears away.

"There was a late berry crop, very sporadic, less berries available, fish were late and unavailable to them and then they come in looking for other opportunities and find unsecured garbage," Porter said.

Porter added that authorities have had to train people on when to defend themselves because some bears have gotten so bold that they are tearing into sheds to get to garbage.

"If bears continue to tear into sheds where (residents) have now put the garbage, then we educate them on what the defense of life or property regulations are," Porter said. "And that would be killing a bear: At what point can you kill a bear."

Two bears were recently captured in Petersburg and relocated to Farragut Bay and Thomas Bay.


Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News,