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Is your trash can bear proof?

JACKSON, Wyo. — One man’s trash is a hungry bear’s meal.

And this time of year, bears are hungry. Fall is the time when bears make their way to lower elevations and eat as much as they can before hibernating for winter.

Teton County released a reminder this morning that it’s “our responsibility to mitigate potential conflicts between wildlife and humans.” An easy way to do that is by using bear-resistant trash cans.

“It seems like many folks out in the community could do a little better in terms of preventing bear encounters that lead, often enough, to euthanizing the bear,” said Teton County Commissioner Mark Newcomb.

And bear encounters have already kept Game & Fish plenty busy. Game & Fish recently captured and relocated a black bear on Snow King Drive, and their phones have been ringing almost daily.

The bear on Snow King Drive was lucky, but when Gocke talked to Buckrail about it back in August, he said trash is one of the biggest causes of problem bears. Bears will hang out wherever there’s food, and sometimes that means they hang out near residential areas. As long as they don’t become habituated to humans, they’re not a problem. Getting into trash is a quick way for a bear to become habituated.

Trash and recycling containers in Teton County are required to be bear-resistant in areas designated as a Conflict Area 1, which has been identified by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as areas that overlap with, lay adjacent to, or are in close proximity to known bear-use areas.

The fine for failing to use a bear-resistant trash can in a conflict area is up to $750 per day, per offense.

Bear-resistant trash containers must meet the minimum structural design standards published by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) successfully pass the testing program and protocols recited in the Bear Resistant Products Testing program. This list is updated every year and is based on whether a bear can open or damage the test product within 60 minutes.

Need a bear-resistant trash can? Contact your garbage collection agency or buy one at local hardware stores for around $250.

Bear-resistant trash cans are just one way to mitigate bear conflicts. Residents in conflict areas are also encouraged to leave their trash and trash containers inside until the morning of trash day – don’t take the easy way out and put your trash out the night before. It also helps to seal food in disposable air-tight containers and clean trash cans regularly.

For more information on bear-resistant trash containers, or to find out if you live in a conflict area, visit Teton County’s website. View the list of IGBC-approved bear-resistant containers, here. To report an offense, call the Code Compliance Officer at 307-733-3959.

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