SITKA (AP) — Twelve bears have been killed in Sitka this year, including four last week, that were deemed dangers to life and property, the Daily Sitka Sentinel reported.

The southeast Alaska city "has a garbage problem," Stephen Bethune, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, told the local Assembly recently.

"Neither I or any of my agency colleagues like killing bears or the labor that ensues but will continue to do so as necessary," he said. "However, removing bears from the population only serves to treat the symptom and fails to cure the root problem. As long as that root issue remains, we will continue to have bears using our residential neighborhoods. That problem can be linked directly to Sitka's current garbage disposal system and the unwillingness or inability of some members of the public to properly store trash."

He urged the use of bear-resistant trash cans and told the newspaper he would encourage the use of electric fences to help deter bears.

Teal West owns a car damaged by bears last month.

"My back trim and my back bumper were basically ripped off my car," West said. "I taped the bumper back on but I'm looking at around $6,000 worth of damage."

Bethune said one of the bears killed last week weighed about 850 pounds (386 kilograms). "It might be the bear that flipped over a shed," he said.

The four bears killed last Tuesday and Wednesday were skinned and their pelts will be sold by the state, he said.

Bethune said he hopes the tension with bears in town eases soon. "Hopefully in the next couple weeks they'll disappear, go up into the hills for the winter," he said.