[Article by contributing writer, North Bend resident and BearSmart, WA volunteer, Melissa Grant].
When my original article – Ridge Bears | Bigger, Bolder and Dying Young; Inside the Snoqualmie Ridge Bear Summit – ran back in April, we had hoped that our “Bear Summit” would change the overwhelming trash situation on the Ridge, which was attracting bears into neighborhoods.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Bear Smart, WA’s collective goal was to collaborate with the Snoqualmie City Council in an effort to resolve the human-bear conflict on the Ridge. By informing city council officials during their contract renegotiation with Waste Management (WM), we hoped they would better understand the cause of the problem and require bear proof containers to be offered to residents in the new 6-year contract.
The bear summit of April 3rd was followed up with a presentation by Bear and Cougar Specialist Rich Beausoleil at a council meeting on April 9th and a presentation by former Bear Smart, WA volunteer Michelle Jones at a Public Works meeting on April 16th. We even left two Kodiak bear proof cans for the mayor and a council member to try out.
KING and KOMO TV both ran stories about Beausoleil’s city council appearance and we felt we had a good chance of the council capitalizing on this opportunity. That hope was dashed when we heard back in early May that the city would not require use of bear proof cans under the contract extension due to it requiring a rebid of the current contract.
The city felt like it had a good rate at that time and what they were considering was a contract extension with those rates. The WM contract consultant said costs were up significantly in the region due to China no longer taking recycling and the city’s rates were likely the best in the area. The city decided to exercise a contract extension vs. re-bidding because the outcome of rebidding might have increased costs significantly for residents.
Disappointed but undeterred, we all continued our work of education and outreach and hoped for a new opportunity to introduce the Kodiak cans to WM customers on the Ridge. At the end of August, we were made aware of some excellent news: WM had made a commitment to transition to using the Kodiak style bear resistant container (certified by the International
Grizzly Bear Council, IGBC), which is tougher against bears than the current wildlife-resistant cans offered to Snoqualmie customers and don’t require a locking handle.
The carts come in the 64-gallon and 96-gallon cart size and will be made available to customers at the current monthly rate for 64-gallon or 96-gallon cart service, plus the $3.50 extra charge per month. The first order will be placed October 1st or thereabouts. At the present time there is not an IGBC certified bear resistant 35-gallon cart size on the market.
So, what’s next? Now we need your help.
In order for WM to consider this a good investment – and expand bear-proof cans in other communities – we need Snoqualmie Ridge residents to get involved in helping remove this [garbage] attractant, stop the senseless killing of bears that live in and around Snoqualmie, and step up and order a bear-proof garbage. By doing so, Snoqualmie Ridge can become the leader in making western WA a bear safe community.
If we succeed, Bear Smart, WA will use the Ridge as an example in all our future efforts so please be a part of history.
Yes, this can costs an additional $3.50 fee a month, but the benefits are monumental, and please realize we are talking about the price of a cup of coffee. Isn’t the community worth a cup of coffee?
Help us, help the bears and help Snoqualmie be bear aware. You won’t regret it when your children’s children get to see these majestic animals in the wild just like you did. I promise.