RENO, NV - Caughlin Ranch hardly looks like bear habitat and it certainly wasn't meant to be, but a combination of years of drought and the easy pickings of readily available, poorly contained garbage has made it so.
This past year was especially bad.
"We had about 16 to 20 bear issues weekly," says Lorrie Olson, Manager of the Caughlin Ranch Homeowners Association.
"So, they were in and out of the community on a daily basis. They tore down some fences. They were constantly in and out of the trash cans, dragging them down the street, eating on everyone's lawn, leaving their scat everywhere, living in some culverts."
Having managed another association at Lake Tahoe for six years, Olson had seen and dealt with the problem before.
She went looking for a solution.
It turns out Waste Management has used bear resistant garage bins elsewhere. They look much like the ones all of us now have, but they're lockable.
It took a change in the franchise agreement with the city to make them available. That's now done and residents can ask for the new containers in two weeks.
Because they have to be unlocked manually by the pick up crews, they'll cost a little more, but there's an incentive.
Homeowner association rules require residents to wait until the morning of pick up to set our their garbage. Many failed to do that and that brought the bears.
Those with the new bear proof bins can put them out the night before.
"So, we're going to be retaining the bears," says Olson. "It may take a couple of years. In the meantime we're training our homeowners that the problem was us by giving them the food source."