My Turn: Completely appalled by bear policies
This is in response to your article, Two states, same fate for back-yard bears (Sierra Sun Nov. 8). I am once again completely appalled by the Nevada Department of Wildlifes response to our bear issues. I think the three-strikes-youre-out rule is a good start; the bears need a chance (which is better than Californias Department of Fish and Game policy) but it has to be applied both ways.Homeowners, tenants, business owners and anyone else that resides in the Tahoe area must be responsible for their trash, as well as securing their home or business in a proper way to ensure that bears cannot enter when they are there or away.I have worked tirelessly this summer volunteering to help homeowners and the bears, I have educated people about being bear aware. I have talked with home and business owners about securing their trash. I have been on bear rescues, and I have been a part of the diversionary bear feeding (for the record, I do not advocate feeding bears at anytime, but due to the significant drought this program was enacted for the Fall of 2007 only and has worked incredibly well in the areas that were targeted.All of these things, myself and many others are doing, are taking place in other communities around the world. From Montana to British Columbia to Germany, communities are coming together to combat their bear issues (notice I dont say bear problem, urban sprawl in the mountains is the problem). It is my opinion, that we as a community must do the following:1. All homeowners in the Tahoe area must be required to have bear-proof trash containers.2. All businesses in the Tahoe area must be required to have lockable trash Dumpsters. During peak tourist season, secondary Dumpsters must be provided. All trash must been in a Dumpster and the Dumpster locked at night.3. A trash policy must be enacted and this policy must become law.4. Law enforcement must be allowed to enforce the trash policy, similar to our winter parking policy first time warning, second time $50 ticket, third time increased fine, fourth time increased fine and misdemeanor charges resulting in court hearing. Revenue from this will be used for training, education and equipment for bear issues.5. During peak tourist season, sanitation departments must provide trash pick up seven days a week for local businesses (restaurants), on-call pick-ups for overflow, provide locks for the Dumpsters with keys for business owners and sanitation employees, and be required to make sure their Dumpsters close and lock properly.6. During peak summer season; trash drop off areas must be created for visitors to drop off their trash when leaving the Tahoe area. These areas must be monitored.7. Property management companies and second homeowners that vacation rent must be required to provide educational literature for renters, and must be held accountable for their renters trash.8. Homes in the Tahoe area must have solid core exterior doors and double pane windows.9. Second homeowners must have reinforced shutters for any windows below 8 feet and provide reinforced door coverings for sliding glass and French doors. These must be secured to the proper framing. Primary residences are encouraged to have these too.10. Second homeowners cannot be issued a depredation permit if they dont have a bear box, solid-core exterior doors, double-pane windows, reinforced shutters and door coverings.11. Bear habitats need to created away from populated areas. These areas should be around streams and be revegetated with native berries. Reservoirs will be created along streams and river tributaries. These reservoirs could also be used for fire suppression.I feel the California Department of Fish and Game, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, local law enforcement agencies and the community should work together to create a bi-state policy that benefits property owners and the bears. Bears should be tagged and monitored, a three-strikes-youre-out policy enacted in both Nevada and California, and instead of euthanization, a relocation policy should be enacted.The 80-pound cub that was euthanized was obviously orphaned; this should have been identified and addressed by the professionals. A mother bear separates from her cubs in their second year, usually during June and July. The cubs diet is subsidized with the sows milk when necessary. The cubs will usually weigh 120-plus pounds at this point, and are capable of surviving on their own. What this means is that this 80- pound bear was in survival mode with little natural skills from mother and was doing its best to get food for winter hibernation, which meant Dumpster diving because people dont secure their trash.I hope that the California DFG and Nevada Wildlife will become more transparent and help open up communication between advocates of the bears and the community. Im tired of working against them and around them. Id rather work with them. To euthanize an 80-pound black bear for sleeping in a Dumpster is an insult to me and the community I live in.Mike Richardson Sr. is a resident of Crystal Bay, Nev.
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