Garbage trucks to start routes later to curb animal problems |

Garbage trucks to start routes later to curb animal problems

Tom Lotshaw
South Tahoe Refuse is pushing back collection times effective Monday, March 3. The hope is that everyone will take their trash out the morning of collection day and not the night before to reduce problems with animals getting into garbage.
Tom Lotshaw / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

South Tahoe Refuse garbage trucks will be getting a later-than-normal start Monday as the company changes its collection hours. The goal is to give South Shore residents more time to drag trash cans out to the street the morning of collection day so garbage isn’t left out overnight and ransacked by bears, dogs or other animals.

Crews will begin residential routes at 7 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. starting March 3. That will give even the earliest-served customers two more hours to wake up and take out the trash.

The hope behind the change is simple: That everyone takes their trash out the morning of collection day and not the night before, resulting in fewer problems with animals getting into garbage.

“Our trucks usually start routes at about 5 a.m. Because of that we know people often put stuff out the night before and if it’s not protected it draws bears, dogs and anything else that wants to get into it,” said Jeff Tillman, president of South Tahoe Refuse.

Garbage that is left out overnight and rummaged through by bears, coyotes, raccoons or other animals can leave a big, time-consuming mess for collection crews to clean up. It also can make problems for animals that come to depend on readily-available garbage for food and the people whose homes they visit.

“We’re hoping this will help residents put their garbage out at the proper time and help the guys on the routes with a little more efficiencies of our own,” Tillman said.

Collection crews will start routes at 5 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. for commercial customers, most of whom have animal proof dumpsters. While collection hours are changing, collection days will remain the same for all customers.

The company has been mailing out fliers to inform customers of the change.

Cheryl Millham of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care got one of the fliers. Thinking it was just another piece of junk mail, Millham almost threw it away without seeing the announcement for a change she and other wildlife advocates have been requesting for years.

“I thought it was just another advertisement. Then I saw the new hours and I’m so excited. This is monumental,” Millham said.

For years, people have complained that the garbage trucks come too early to take trash out that same morning. Those people will now have a couple extra hours to do it, Millham said.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for this community to get behind the new hours and I personally want to thank the trash company for changing the hours. Mammoth changed their pickup times and their bear problems didn’t go away, but they were down like 80 percent,” Millham said.

“If the community gets behind the new hours I think we can see a lot less problems with wildlife. I sure would like to give the trash company kudos and to tell the community it’s now time for us to do our job and follow the rules and take care of some of the bear problems.”

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