Yes, it’s that time of year again. Spring. When the bears wake up…. and wake up HUNGRY. Here’s a photo from the Braeburn neighborhood of Snoqualmie Ridge, where on March 30th a resident said she spent the morning cleaning up someone else’s garbage that a bear dragged into her yard.
Bear, Garbage 101: You can get a Ticket for Feeding Wildlife
If you’re new to the Snoqualmie Valley, here’s an FYI: we have a lot of bear activity. Bears love unsecured garbage cans – and once they find yours, their keen memory will bring them back week after week.
Washington State Fish and Wildlife officers say the number one thing that attracts bears to neighborhood streets – and keeps them coming back week after week – is humans AND their garbage.
If you live in Snoqualmie and your garbage keeps attracting the bears, you can even face a civil infraction. Two years ago the City of Snoqualmie passed a garbage ordinance in an attempt to deter bears from local neighborhoods.
The new law makes it a misdemeanor civil infraction if residents unintentionally feed wildlife through garbage negligence. Per the Snoqualmie garbage ordinance, residents are also subject to a tougher misdemeanor charge after being issued an infraction for negligent feeding wildlife or having been notified in writing by the public works director to use a Wildlife-Resistant Garbage Can.
For Snoqualmie residents, putting garbage cans out the night before your collection day is something that can be construed as “negligently feed wildlife by allowing wildlife access to garbage containers” – if bears continually get into that garbage.
Snoqualmie Police do not actively patrol the garbage can situation, but if they respond to address the issue (say a neighbor complains), warn you and ask that you get a bear-resistant container, and you don’t AND the bears continue to visit, they can then issue you a $125 ticket the next time.
Bear-resistant Garbage Containers Work
For those without space in garages (or no garages) for garbage containers, Waste Management also offers Snoqualmie residents wildlife-resistant garbage and yard waste containers. They cost a few dollars extra per month, but they do work.
After bears started continually climbed our fence and made a nightly meal of our garbage and yard waste, we switched out both cans. The bears came back a couple of times last year, tried unsuccessfully to open the cans (we have claw marks as proof), and we haven’t seen them since.
Bears are smart – with an amazing sense of smell, capped off with superb memory. Once they visit a street the night before garbage pick up and find cans and dinner, it’s most likely they will return the following week.
So keep that garbage in bear-resistant cans or inside garages or sheds – or be prepared for a possible ticket and the evil eye of those neighbors who have to clean up your garbage the bears drag into their yards.
Here’s a VIDEO reminder of local bear agility when it comes to fences and garbage containers: