Yes Snoqualmie, Putting Garbage Cans out the Night Before Collection Day Invites Bears to Neighborhoods, Can Get you $125 Ticket

Ask Washington State Fish and Wildlife officers the number one thing that attracts bears to neighborhood streets – and keeps them coming back week after week – and the answer will most likely be HUMANS… more specifically, humans and their garbage.

The City of Snoqualmie passed a new garbage ordinance last summer in an attempt to deter bears from local neighborhoods. The new law makes it a Class 2 civil infraction to negligently feed wildlife by allowing wildlife access to garbage containers and a misdemeanor to intentionally feed wildlife by allowing them access to garbage containers.

Per the new Snoqualmie garbage ordinance, residents are subject to the 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, according to the ordinance.

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 are not actively patrolling 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, you don’t and the bears continue to visit, they can then issue you a $125 ticket the next time.

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.

Monday, April 20, 2015, around 2:20AM, a bear was walking Curtis Ave in Snoqualmie, knocking over cans. A resident who was woken by the noise snapped a picture of the large guy.

Curtis Ave is located right in the center of Snoqualmie Ridge, one section the street is bordered by a trail and small woods. This is not one of the fringe, outer areas of Snoqualmie Ridge bordered by deep woods.

The bears are back, awake and wandering into the interior neighborhood areas in search of dinner. Garbage cans are the easiest target – and cans that don’t lock or are put out the night before pick up are equivalent to setting the dinner table for our local friends who were here way before us.

Bear on Curtis Ave in Snoqualmie Ridge, 4/20/15, around 2AM.
Bear on Curtis Ave in Snoqualmie Ridge, 4/20/15, around 2AM.



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  • What do you expect these animals should do? Go to Safeway?
    We selfishly take all their habitat then are “shocked” that they invade our space. Why can’t we learn to share? Insist developers set aside space for these animals. Same problem with the elk up on the Ridge. Yes, bears have a long memory, they remember when that area was their home and their food source.

    1. I’m not sure anyone is “shocked.” The title was meant to have a tinge of sarcasm in it bc this happens all the time…. most often it’s new residents who don’t realize how prevalent the bears are, which is why we try and do reminders. According to Fish and Wildlife agents, the garbage is what brings the bears out of the surrounding woods – and they hope with better human adherence to garbage, bears will stay in the woods, which are plentiful around here.

      1. “most often it’s new residents who don’t realize how prevalent the bears are”

        We have neighbors in our neighborhood that have been here almost 10 years, and they always put their garbage out the night before. Every week, without fail. It’s not just the new residents.

        1. Good point Mike. The thing the new law does do is open the possibility of fines for those who continue to do this, but it is my understanding that police won’t be patrolling for this… if neighbors find this a continuing problem, they will have to alert SPD to incidents when bears get into those cans and then the officers can issue the civil infraction and then the second time, if they respond again, a ticket can be issued.

  • I agree with the previous comment by Jo, we continue to take more & more of their space away, where do we expect them to go?? They have known this area for years & will continue to look to it for a food source. The Ridge is looking more & more like a mini Issaquah where every inch is packed with a condo or house where you can reach out & shake your neighbors hand by opening your bedroom window. What happened to a moratorium on building on the Ridge?? Was this something I heard or am I just wishing for this to happen??

  • Thaes, this is a master plan community. This growth has been planned for decades. It slowed down during the recession, but this has been a two decade slow march. There really are no surprises with the development. The work we are seeing now are the last communities to be created. Now the development that is happening over the parkway crest, and across the river … that is new and something we should keep an eye on. The moratoriums were for the other side of the interstate and in North Bend.

    1. Geoffrey, I have endless doubts on the benefits of the Ridge master plan. The biggest woops would be our “one” Snoqualmie exit off I90. The little town of Ritzville Wa has three spots to get on the interstate and it’s nothing like a pleasantville.
      I hope those who are looking to move here understand the one exit scenario sucks and will continue to degrade the quality of life for all of us.
      And for the bears, I feel they still have plenty of room & I’m ok with sharing the local ecosystem with them.

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