Douglas makes move to curtail hungry bears |

Douglas makes move to curtail hungry bears

Sheila Gardner

Douglas County made a move Thursday to send hungry black bears packing by unanimously approving the first reading of an ordinance which would require tamper-proof trash containers at homes already hit twice by nuisance animals.

Lisa Granahan, assistant to the county manager, pointed out that, if adopted, the ordinance would not be mandatory for all residents.

“Only after two violations within two years does the ordinance require installation of a bear-proof container,” she said.

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 $200-$700.

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The first reading passed following about an hour’s discussion on the black bear problem which exploded in Carson Valley over the summer.

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.

Those statistics did not stop the board from refusing to hand over more money to the department, which is responsible for managing the black bear population and answering nuisance calls.

Ken Mayer, director of the department, told commissioners costs in Washoe and Douglas counties increased about 50 percent this year to an estimated $167,385.

He did not request a specific figure from commissioners, but earlier, state officials asked the county for $50,000.

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.

Settelmeyer said she was concerned about the safety of her grandchildren and livestock.

“I’m not in favor of killing anything, but you have to be able to protect our children,” she said. “Anytime a bear goes after something that has a heartbeat, you’re in danger.”

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