Harsh words for county from the BEAR League: Not enforcing trash can laws, director says | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Harsh words for county from the BEAR League: Not enforcing trash can laws, director says

Photo provided by Roger Nelson / A bear raids trash near the Tahoe Keys neighborhood last year. It's illegal in California to provide food to bears by leaving trash out.

A woman who championed laws in Tahoe requiring some residents buy bear-proof trash containers accused El Dorado County of ignoring the laws on Monday.

“They are probably the worst county in the basin,” said Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League. “They’ve been very lax on enforcement.”

The county’s environmental management department issued 10 second citations last year, said director Ginger Huber. So far this year, they have issued 3 second citations.

She said they work closely with the League and do respond to complaints.

“We have had several properties we’ve had difficulty getting compliance, and they have gone to court,” she said. “It’s a time consuming process and we are doing the best we can.”

Bryant said it’s not enough. Her volunteers do all the work, she said, and forward “dozens and dozens” of complaints to the department each year.

“(Their citation numbers are) really a huge statement on the complete lack of enforcement,” she said. “We’ve turned in people over and over and over and neighbors have called and sent in pictures. It’s extremely discouraging because we worked so hard to get the ordinance passed.”

Placer County cites seven or eight residents per week, she said.

Each of Tahoe’s four counties have similar codes requiring bear-proof trash containers on all new construction and certain remodels. They also require residents to purchase a bear-proof trash container after two citations for allowing bears to access garbage.

The ordinances were intended to discourage bears from connecting humans with sources of food. Bears in Tahoe have become more brazen in recent years, and are starting to enter homes.

A bear broke into a woman’s home on Kingsbury last Friday, and one was killed in Tahoe City last year after rampaging 78 homes.

Huber said they are only responsible for the unincorporated areas of the county, while the City of South Lake Tahoe is responsible for enforcement in their area. The code itself – Chapter 8.76.010 – appears to include all areas of the county in Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe Police spokesman Brian Williams could not be reached for comment as of press time Wednesday.

The Tahoe Bear Can Co. is now selling affordable bear-proof plastic trash cans at $70 each. The BEAR League tested the cans extensively last year and gave them the stamp of approval last fall.

“That’s why El Dorado County has such a good deal going because South Tahoe Refuse will service the new cans,” Bryant said. North Shore waste management companies refuse to use the new containers because they have a screw-on top.

If a second citation is issued, the homeowner must purchase the more expensive metal bins, which run between $1,000 and $1,200.

Bryant is featured in a new book “Living with Bears,” by Linda Masterson, which provides real-life stories from wildlife managers, organizations, national parks and communities who’ve discovered creative, practical ways for people and bears to peacefully coexist.

— “Living with Bears,” by Linda Masterson, is available in South Lake Tahoe at Grass Roots Natural Foods. It is sold at all major book retailers nationally.

— To purchase bear-proof trash cans, contact Karen Manfreddi, Tahoe Bear Can Co. (530) 906-0327, kmanfredi@earthlink.net, $70; or Tahoe Bear Box Co., metal enclosures (530) 546-3154, $800-$1,200

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