Efforts Under Way To Curtail Hungry Bears

Douglas County has launched an effort to discourage garbage-raiding bears after a hearing that produced some finger-pointing.

Commissioners unanimously approved Thursday's first reading of an ordinance which would require tamperproof trash containers at homes that have been hit at least twice by the nuisance animals.

Officials stress that the ordinance would apply only to residences with a history of bear problems.

"Only after two violations within two years does the ordinance require installation of a bear-proof container," according to Lisa Granahan, assistant to the county manager.

She also pointed out that the law has been in effect at the Tahoe Basin for several years and, to date, no one has been required to purchase the trash container, which costs from

The first reading passed following about an hour's discussion on the Carson Valley's black bear problem.

In July and August, Nevada Department of Wildlife dispatchers received 4,792 calls about bears from Douglas and Washoe county residents, up from 3,704 calls in 2006. The number of department responses doubled from 207 in July to 408 in August, according to figures presented to commissioners.

During public comment, ranchers Frank Godecke and Patricia Settelmeyer placed the responsibility for the increased nuisance black bears with state officials.

"I don't think the Department of Wildlife has done the job managing the population," Godecke said. "For 50 years, you've let bears procreate and now there are more bears than habitat to
support them."

He dismissed an argument that the bears were moving into the area because of the drought.

"We had droughts in the '70s, '80s and '90s worse than this and not had this problem. A bunch of bears were allowed to procreate and come down to the Valley to get easy pickings.

"If my cows were allowed to run down Main Street and munch on everybody's lawn, there would be a lot of complaints," Godecke said.

Information from: Gardnerville Record-Courier, http://www.recordcourier.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)