Tahoe Community Considers Steps To Deter Bear Feeding

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Visitors to this north Lake Tahoe resort community could soon see signs warning them not to feed the bears.

Officials are considering ways to reduce human-bear conflicts after a string of problems that included the deaths of two garbage-foraging bears here over the last year.

"People who live here know what to do, and for the most part are very responsible," Washoe County sheriff's Lt. Gregg Lubbe told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.

"The problem is with the people who come and go. We have to let them know that this is a problem, and I think posting signs could help solve it," he said.

Carl Lackey, a Nevada Wildife Division biologist, said signs could be a big help but more should be done to prevent residents from putting out unprotected garbage that lures bears.

"Maybe bear-proof containers should be required," he said.

Residents have argued the containers are too costly - up to $700 each - but Lackey defends them.

"A person has to weigh how much the safety of his family is worth, and if you keep your trash uncovered, you're going to have bears around and that could be risky," he said.

Other counties that cover portions of Lake Tahoe have enacted bear ordinances in recent years.

Douglas County and California's Placer and El Dorado counties now require 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.

Washoe County spokesman Mike Wolterbeek said a bear ordinance for his county is pending.

"Right now, we're waiting to see how the ordinance works for Douglas County," he said. "We don't want to just put an ordinance out that can't be enforced effectively.

"We are working on the options and will address it. I just can't say when," he said.

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 food from people often become bolder, making them more likely to be destroyed as problem bears.

Lackey said human-bear conflicts in the Tahoe Basin are keeping him busy.

"I think this is one of the busiest springs on record," he said. "I've already had about 10 calls, and it will more than likely get busier."