County Considers Bear-Proof Garbage Cans

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Spurred by the recent deaths of two garbage-foraging bears in this north Lake Tahoe community, Washoe County commissioners are considering an ordinance requiring the installation of bear-proof trash containers.

The most recent death occurred last month when a Nevada Division of Wildlife official shot a bear after day-long efforts to divert it from homes failed.

Commissioner Jim Galloway, who represents Incline Village, last week urged the board to consider action.

"This is not the only incident in which a bear has been put to death because there was no other way to control a situation resulting from the attraction of food,"he said.

"The idea of containers may not be the only solution to such problems, but clearly sometimes tranquilizers don't work and sometimes rubber bullets don't work,"he added.

The county is considering an ordinance patterned after others at Tahoe. The county alone has no rules aimed at curbing the problem at Tahoe.

In the last two years, Douglas County and California's Placer and El Dorado counties have enacted ordinances requiring a homeowner to install a bear-proof trash container after a second bear-related trash incident.

Placer County also requires installation of the containers for new construction as well as major remodeling projects.

Ann Bryant, executive director of the Tahoe-based BEAR League, urged Washoe County to require the containers after a second incident, as the other Tahoe counties do.

"Any ordinance is only as good as its public support, and making everyone install a container just wouldn't work,"she told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper.

"But we do strongly recommend it. It's good for everyone, and the neighbors, who won't be bothered by bear problems, really appreciate the effort,"she added.

Since 2000, more than two dozen bears have been killed in the Tahoe Basin because of garbage-related incidents, according to the BEAR League.

Wildlife experts say bears accustomed to getting their food from people often become bolder, making them more likely to be destroyed as problem bears.

Commissioners asked staff to gather more comments from citizens. Earlier this month, a local Citizen Advisory Board recommended against a blanket trash container requirement.