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Illegally Discarded Fish Waste May Lure Fines, Bears


(Anchorage) – With salmon fishing season now in full swing, anglers and dipnetters are reminded to take care to properly dispose of fish waste. Dumping fish waste on public or private property can draw bears into areas frequented by the public and is a violation of state law. Violators may be subject to fines from $300 to $1,000.

In Anchorage, where large numbers of people live in close proximity to bears, illegally discarded fish waste appears each summer in vacant lots, greenbelt parks, and on local streams and lakeshores.

“Many people who dump fish and fish waste probably don’t realize how much danger they are putting people in,” said Dave Battle, Anchorage area wildlife biologist. “Fish attract bears, and bears are likely to defend these food sources.” 

Soldotna area wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger encounters illegally discarded fish waste each summer and agrees that it sets the stage for bear conflicts in Kenai Peninsula communities. He offers an easy solution for anglers and dipnetters participating in area fisheries: “Toss your fish waste into the Soldotna (Central Peninsula) landfill,” Selinger said, “it’s free.”

Some fish pathogens and parasites have been proven to be drainage specific. Moving fish waste from drainage to drainage has the potential to introduce fish pathogens into stream systems, thus endangering local salmonids, says Dan Bosch, Anchorage regional management coordinator with the Division of Sport Fish. “Dumping fish waste into any other stream is not a proper method of disposal,” said Bosch.

Anglers who clean fish on site are encouraged to chop the fish carcasses into numerous pieces and throw them into fast-moving water. Anglers who remove fish from the fishing site and fillet or process them somewhere else should follow these recommendations to dispose of fish waste in a safe manner:

  • If allowed, fish waste should be taken directly to a waste transfer station or to the landfill. Another good option is to freeze fish waste to eliminate odors and then place it out with garbage on the morning of trash pickup. Do not place waste out the night before pickup.
  • The Central Peninsula Landfill located at Mile 98.5 Sterling Highway 2.5 miles south of Soldotna accepts fish waste free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Fish waste can also be deposited at Peninsula transfer facilities, including those in Cooper Landing, Kasilof, and Ninilchik, but in smaller quantities; all fish waste must be double-bagged in plastic trash bags with a limit of two bags dropped off per day.
  • Anchorage Regional Landfill, the city’s Central Transfer Station, and the Girdwood Transfer Station all accept residential, non-commercial fish waste.
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough Solid Waste takes residential, non-commercial fish waste at all facilities, but it must be bagged. The central landfill location serves Palmer/Wasilla, with transfer stations located in Big Lake, Butte, and Sutton.


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