The Jenkins City Council was joined by two representatives from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife at its September meeting to discuss the situation with black bears in the city.
Herbie Adams of Jenkins, who is now retired but still represents the agency on some matters, and Wildlife biologist Trystan Curry told the council there really isn’t much that people can do except to try to make sure their garbage is either kept up until pick-up day or to put it in some kind of bear-proof receptacle.
Curry said that in years when there is a good deal of natural food available to bears they are less likely to forage in people’s garbage, but that the autumn olive crop is unusually small this year. He said that bears eat autumn olives during the transitional period from summer food like berries to winter food like acorns. He added that in addition to bins made specially to keep bears out of garbage, homemade bins like old refrigerators or deep freezers are good too.
Curry said that bear-proof bins are available at Lowe’s for around $200. Steps should be taken to keep small children safe if freezers or refrigerators are used.
Herbie Adams told the council that the availability of food is the main factor in attracting bears. “If a bear can’t get food, he will go somewhere else,” said Adams. He said pet food left on porches or other outside locations will also attract bears and that once a bear has gotten a meal it will return to see if there is another one available.
Curry said that unless a bear is actually trying to get in a house or if a person is threatened, it is unlawful to shoot a bear. He said that doesn’t really happen very often and bears usually will move away if people get close to them, adding that a bear making noise doesn’t necessarily mean it is being aggressive. He added that purposely feeding bears can create undesirable situations.
Curry also told the council that catching and moving bears has little effect since another bear usually takes the territory over. He said bears are highly intelligent and sometimes figure out the schedule for garbage pick-up in a particular area. Curry added that if a bear is damaging property the department will take action, and if people feel threatened by bears they should call the Kentucky State Police. The toll-free information number for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is 800-858- 1549. For an emergency or to report a law violation, use 800-25-ALERT.
In other business, members of the Jenkins Days Festival Committee attended the meeting and Mayor Todd Depriest and other council members complimented their efforts in presenting what they called a very successful event. Depriest said he has heard nothing but praise and great comments from residents of Jenkins and visitors to the festival, and said he hopes that everyone knows how hard the committee works to make the festival successful.
Committee member Joanne Baldwin said that sometimes it is difficult to locate the tents that are rented by various groups to suit everyone, and it is especially true in election years. She also said that the committee members had some complaints about smoking but there isn’t much they can do because it is not illegal to smoke in an outdoor area. She also said there are no specific rules to keep attendees from smoking in the park.
Depriest said the council will work on those and a few other issues in the coming year and added that the presence of animals is another topic they will address. He said that dogs are not permitted in the park during the festival, except for service dogs, but committee members said they are legally limited in how much they can control that. Depriest said the questions that can be asked to people with service animals are limited by the Americans With Disabilities Act, but the council will explore ways to identify service animals. He added that it is impossible to address every issue.
Depriest told the council he had attended the recent SOAR meeting and had been involved in discussions about attracting service industries to the Gateway Industrial Park. He said he feels that a number of contractors who will work on the federal prison that will be built in Roxana may be interested in locating facilities at the park and said it is important to inform anyone interested that the infrastructure is in place with a plentiful supply of energy and good water and sewer facilities.
Depriest also said that if Jenkins wants to attract new residents, especially families, it needs to make sure the city is clean. He said it is important that the city looks like a desirable place to locate and the city will enforce nuisance laws and others that deal with unkempt properties. Depriest added that the city is looking at the possibility of locating dormitory residences at the park for construction workers involved with various projects at the prison.
Police Chief Josh Richardson introduced the city’s newest officer, Hunter Holbrook. Holbrook is from Elkhorn City and replaced Officer Jared Hipps, who left the department to attend barber school.