Lake Tahoe Community Considers Plan To Reduce Bear Conflicts

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (AP) - A Lake Tahoe community is considering a tougher trash ordinance in an effort to reduce the number of conflicts involving bears and other wildlife.

Under the Incline Village General Improvement District's proposal, residents found guilty of a first bear-related trash violation would be charged $300 for a 96-gallon bear-resistant container that the district would provide them.

Second offenses would result in a $1,000 fine and mandatory installation of a bear box.

The district board also is considering a proposal to prohibit residents from placing trash at the curb no sooner than 5 a.m. on collection days. People who leave trash out overnight have been blamed for luring bears to the north shore community.

"The number of wild animal problems is increasing and has increased dramatically in the last couple of years," board Vice Chairman Gene Brockman told The Associated Press. "These proposals would certainly reduce the problem."

The district's current ordinance calls for a $100 fine for a first offense, a $500 fine for a second offense and a $1,000 fine for subsequent offenses. But the fine can be rescinded if the property owner installs a bear-proof container.

The board is expected to take action in late April or May after holding public hearings on the proposals, Brockman said.

Other jurisdictions around Tahoe already have taken similar steps to reduce human-bear conflicts.

Staff member Joe Pomroy said the district is trying to prevent residents from having more than one violation.

"With our proposal, if you get a trash violation, we'll come out and deliver the cart," Pomroy told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. "It's designed so that first offense can take care of the issue."

The district also will step up efforts to educate residents about the need to put out trash the morning of pickups, staffer Madonna Dunbar said.

"We plan to coordinate education patrols on trash nights, so if we do find offenders, it can work as kind of a warning. We want to educate them," Dunbar told the Bonanza.

There were 75 wildlife-related trash complaints around Incline Village in 2007, which resulted in $11,522 in fines, according to the district.

Brockman said he's concerned about whether the proposed higher
fines would create a hardship for some residents.

Contrary to Incline Village's image as a haven for the wealthy, the community has a higher percentage of senior citizens living on retirement income than the rest of Washoe County, he said.

"It's a concern we'll consider and weigh," Brockman said. "Our per capita income is very, very slightly above the rest of Washoe County, so the Income Village image is not correct."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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