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Neighborhood won’t bear trashy bruins

For bears, trash is an easy dinner.

Bears have been coming to neighborhoods in increasing numbers to raid the trash containers, but several neighborhoods throughout the basin are setting standards with regulations to stop the intrusion. The Lake Village Homeowners Association is the most recent to hop on the band wagon.

But while laws to keep trash under control and bears out of neighborhoods have been enacted in communities near Yosemite National Park, Smoky Mountain National Park and Mammoth Lakes, Tahoe has yet to follow suit.



Douglas County Commissioner Don Miner said that traditionally homeowners associations have addressed bear issues on their own.

But all that will change if the Bear League gets its way. The League plans to propose mandatory trash controls in Douglas County, an idea whose time has come, said league member Rita McEwing.




“If we can all get together and do trash ordinances, we can all live in the forests in harmony,” McEwing said. “And we can have the natural wildlife here that makes this place so beautiful.”

While the mess that bears can make of people’s trash is a nuisance, the problem can be more severe than a mischievous night prank.

On the California side of South Shore five bears have been killed since August by the California Department of Fish and Game, McEwing said.

And this year a trio of bears, also later killed, broke into homes in Rubicon and Meeks Bay looking for food, she added.

Carl Lackey, a biologist for the Nevada Department of Conservation, said that the frequency of neighborhood bear intrusions has increased dramatically in recent years due to urban sprawl and because bears which become accustomed to human food continue to seek it out.

“Ten years ago we had a handful of complaints a year, and we are up to 150 to 200 a year now,” said Lackey, who is responsible for the Nevada side of the Tahoe Basin and Carson Valley.

Lackey said educating the public about bears and the use of bear containers is the only way to stop the problem.

While Donner Tahoe, Tahoe Village and Chamberlins have implemented their own ordinances, Lake Village has recently adopted some pretty strict codes of its own.

Trash can only be placed in designated trash containers between 6 and 9 a.m. on trash days, unless put in a bear-proof container. The first offense gets a warning, but then fines begin in $25 increments for each offense and can go as high as $500.

While bear containers could alleviate the hassle of conforming to such a tiny window of time, the cost for a Bear-ier container made by McClintock and used by Lake Village is around $600. One Bear-ier will be shared by two home owners and the association will pick up $100 of the tab.

The communities of Dollar Point and Sky Land are also considering ordinances of their own, but whether Douglas County will agree to mandate trash ordinances remains to be seen.

Ann Bryant, executive director for the Bear League, said she is hoping to get the issue on the Douglas County Commission agenda as soon as possible and is hoping that regulations can be adopted by spring.


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