Guest Column: Do your part to be bear smart
May 13, 2013
Tahoe's black bears regularly come into neighborhoods all around the lake, searching for food. With humans living in the forest, we have all become neigh-bears, creating a need to peacefully co-exist.
In order to make Incline Village/Crystal Bay a place that bears pass through — rather than stay — we must work together to make our neighborhoods "attractant free." All it takes is one incident of a bear getting garbage, or human food, to get that animal in serious trouble.
To accomplish this goal, visitors and residents must become familiar with "Bear Smart" practices and follow them at all times. Being "Bear Smart" is not difficult, but it does require constant attention to maintaining a clean and secure property. The primary "Be Bear Smart" strategy is to keep wildlife from becoming human food habituated in the first place.
The following tips are some of the main "Bear Smart" points:
Never approach or intentionally feed wildlife. Feeding bears (or any wildlife) creates a dangerous situation, increases the potential for property damage and ensures the eventual death of the animal.
Remove all potential attractants; 95 percent of all human/bear conflicts are linked to access to food or garbage. Leaving the garage door or home open; trash left outside or unsecured; food and food packaging left in vehicles; birdfeeders; pet food; dirty barbecues; fruit trees; and fruiting bushes are all major attractants to the bears.
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Dispose of waste in wildlife resistant containers. Do not delay any longer on investing in a metal bear box or wildlife resistant trash container. Bear boxes do not require any TRPA coverage. Bear boxes really work.
Rental property owners should invest in bear boxes immediately, to curtail the problems with tenants mishandling trash. Property owners are responsible for tenant violations, as detailed in IVGID Solid Waste Ordinance No. 1.
When using a Dumpster, it must remain closed and locked at all times, except for loading and unloading trash. Use the locking mechanism provided — not just the chain. Never overfill the Dumpster, and never leave it unlocked or place trash outside the Dumpster if it is full. Immediately contact your property manager with any Dumpster problems.
Take advantage of the community recycling program to reduce the amount of garbage you need to keep away from wildlife. Recycling can reduce your trash volume by more than 50 percent in most cases. Rinse all food related recyclables very well to remove odors.
If you need information — there are many resources available. Simply call IVGID Waste Not at 775-832-1284 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can assist you with general bear information and more technical needs such as assisting with bear box purchasing and placement.
Learn what to do when a bear is on your property. Make the bear feel unwelcome and think you are a bigger bear. Stay safe, always use common sense and trust your own instincts.
There are some excellent internet resources available for further education at:
Being a "Bear Smart Community" is so important that both the IVGID Board of Trustees and the Washoe County Board of Supervisors have declared "May is Be Bear Smart Month," emphasizing the role humans have to play in preventing human/bear conflict.
Madonna Dunbar is IVGID's Resource Conservationist. IVGID assumes no responsibility or liability for persons or property related to the information presented in this article.