RENO — A southwest Reno community is taking steps to keep problem bears out of their trash.
Waste Management Inc. will provide animal-resistant garbage containers to Caughlin Ranch residents who want them under a franchise amendment approved in December by Reno city officials.
Changes become effective Jan. 17.
The goal is to limit problems with bears by significantly reducing their access to trash by next summer, when bears start searching for easy food, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Tuesday.
“We’re doing the right thing,” said Lorrie Olson, general manager of the Caughlin Ranch Homeowners Association. “We’re no longer an open buffet.”
Service to Caughlin Ranch’s 2,200 homes will remain the same but animal-resistant garbage carts will be made available for an added cost of $6.27 per month.
While acknowledging the increase isn’t paltry, Olson hopes enough Caughlin residents will decide to go for the animal-resistant option to avoid a repeat of last summer and fall, when bears came down from the mountains to search for food to fatten up before winter hibernation.
As an incentive, residents using animal-resistant containers will be allowed to place their trash on the curb the night before pickup. Those without the containers can do so only the morning of pickup, with violators facing potential fines by the homeowners association.
Olson said she is confident removing easy access to garbage by bears will make a difference.
“I think it will definitely help,” she told the newspaper.
Bears, she said, will realize the neighborhood is no longer a food source. “Just like they learned to come, they’re going to learn not to come.”
It’s a move wildlife biologists say is long overdue.
“This is the best way to deal with potential conflicts,” said Carl Lackey, a biologist and bear expert with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “It sets the bar for other communities in Washoe County. It sets a real good example for other communities for what needs to be done.”
At Lake Tahoe, trustees with the Incline Village General Improvement District are moving forward with plans to make bear-resistant trash containers mandatory. A final vote to amend Incline’s franchise agreement with Waste Management and institute that change is expected in February.