Bear officials target restaurant Dumpsters
Bear advocates, as well as Tahoe area residents harassed by an abundance of bruins this summer, are asking Placer County to help them cope with the mounting bear problem.
At an informal meeting with Placer County District 5 Supervisor Bruce Kranz Thursday, BEAR League board director Jim Sajdak requested the county join other local organizations and look at changing current county coded to require true bear-resistant garbage enclosures for restaurants and resorts.
Sajdak said while many homeowners have successfully secured their homes and trash, commercial businesses have contributed to an acute basin-wide bear problem.
“Once they get the taste of food, no matter where they get it from, they’ll stop foraging,” Sajdak said. “Part of the disappointing thing is the bears have a three- to five-mile radius of territory … All the homeowners are really complying [with secure garbage ordinances], but then the restaurants are left with wide-open dumpsters.”
Supervisor Kranz agreed that something needs to be done, both in the short run for the increasing number of homeowners who have reported bear encounters, and in the long run, with tougher restaurant regulations.
“I will make a commitment from my side that we’ll work on this long term, but I also think it’s going to be incumbent upon all the counties and the city in the basin to come up with the same regulations,” Kranz said.
County staff has been directed to look into stricter ordinances for restaurants and resorts.
Currently, residents are required to install an approved bear box with any new development, a significant remodel or two written complaints over unsecured garbage. The BEAR League would like to see something similar for commercial operations.
Sunnyside Resort solved its bear problems when it installed a trash compactor five years ago. While the machine was originally installed to reduce the mass of garbage, it served to minimize, if not eliminate, bear break-ins, said executive chef Lee Kresy.
“We obviously have to reduce the population, though. You can’t have it as big as it is right now,” Kranz said. “We’ve created the problem and now we’ve got to solve it.”
BEAR League officials agree that the bear population has spiked significantly, mostly due to the buffet of human food available to a determined bear in residential areas.
“The bear’s reproductive cycle is based on body fat percentage. The higher calories in human food, that’s why these bears are having two and three cubs. And that’s why the population in the basin is getting out of hand. We’ve been feeding them for years,” Sajdak said.
Kranz said he would like to meet with interested parties including the BEAR League, California Department of Fish and Game, California Senator Dave Cox and El Dorado county representatives to address immediate population issues with bears.
“We have to look at this thing collectively,” said Kranz.
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