Bins help bear-proof Carson Valley park |

Bins help bear-proof Carson Valley park

by Susie Vasquez
Nevada Appeal News Service

Garbage-raiding bears, from cubs to 700-pound males, are an increasing problem in Carson Valley and to help stem the tide, the Genoa Town Board is having bear-proof cans installed at Genoa Community Park.

The containers were purchased from Randy Stanaway of Tahoe Bear Box Co., who was installing the new boxes early Friday.

“I saw the need for these in Tahoe years ago, so I designed them,” he said. “Compumeric Engineering in Ontario, Calif., helped with the engineering.”

In addition to the local market, Stanaway has been selling his boxes to customers from Alaska, Yosemite National Park and beyond.

Some models, which are portable and designed more for residential use, are being tested at the park and one bear threw the 95-gallon plastic model against a wooden pole. The pole broke but the can didn’t, Stanaway said.

“We’ve been testing them here for months,” he said. “No complaints yet.”

The number of bear complaints in Carson Valley has easily quadrupled this year when compared to last. Bears have been spotted in urban centers before, but not in all towns at once, said Carl Lackey of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

“We’ve removed two bears from the Minden/Gardnerville area and it sounds like there are three more,” he said. “We’re dealing with four to five bears a week, on average.”

In addition to being a nuisance for residents, it’s also not good for the bears.

Last year, 32 human-caused bear mortalities occurred among Nevada’s local bear population, which hovers between 200-300, according to information from the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The bears won’t start hibernating until after Thanksgiving and it could be even later this year. The bear population hasn’t increased, but the bears are becoming more acclimated to the urban environment, Lackey said.

“Bears have come to rely on human sources of food,” Lackey said. “As a result, they tolerate human presence at closer range.”

Development in the area is crowding bears out of the habitat and the problem is further exacerbated as cubs learn from their mothers that food is located in trash cans. The black bear’s amazing sense of smell allows it to find food humans consider out of reach, according to information from the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Commissioners are considering expansion of a Douglas County ordinance requiring bear-proof bins, which is now restricted to Tahoe Township in Douglas County.

For your information

The following is a summary of suggestions to discourage bears, from the Nevada Department of Wildlife,

• Never approach or feed a bear – or any other wild animal.

• Use removable bird feeders.

• Keep pet food cleaned up or indoors.

• Keep a close watch on children while they are outdoors, and teach them what to do if they encounter a bear.

• Use bear-proof garbage containers available through commercial dealers.

• Wait until the morning of pick-up before placing garbage out.

• Feed pets indoors.

• Bears causing major problems should be reported to the Nevada Department of Wildlife. A bear getting into trash or a sighting does not warrant a call. Wildlife Dispatch can be reached at 688-1331.