Curtis J. Comeau: Bear myopia won’t do |

Curtis J. Comeau: Bear myopia won’t do

Though I applaud the City Council’s decision regarding commercial dumpster bear proofing, why do they continue to ignore the same solution for residential? Smorgasbords disguised as unsecured trash containers. We need to remember that it is not so much a bear issue as it is a people issue. It is we who invaded their territory.

Bear-proof trash containers really do work. I live on a country road, store my trash tote outside and put it out on the street very early. Prior to purchasing a bear-proof tote, more than once I had to clean up strewn trash. Since I converted, bears have dragged it and scratched it up, but have never succeeded in getting it open.

In earlier comments in the paper, the lady whose mother lives in Lake Tahoe showed us that bears are smart. Denied the easy buffet of open trash, they looked for unlocked doors, cars, etc. Does that mean we don’t make a start with residential trash?

To the gentleman who voiced resentment that in 20 years, he has never been a trash victim, all I can say is welcome to the reality of the few who ruin it for the many. We need only remember the disappearance of the recycle bins at Safeway to remind us. There will always be the irresponsible few who will flat out refuse to practice good stewardship and only respond to yet another law. Unfortunate, but true.

The issue of cost is a legitimate concern — $250 is two days at the ski area, or a very nice dinner out for a family at one of our pricier restaurants. But wait. Here’s the wonderful gift we have all been given. Thanks to the lowest fuel prices in six years, the typical family will save north of $750 this year. That’s free money. You can buy a top-of-the-line, bear-proof container and still have money left over to play with.

Jim Haskins, of DOW, who knows more about this subject than anyone in the valley, told the council that, “If you have good enforcement it sinks in. But if there’s not a very dedicated and strong enforcement commitment, then pretty much everything you do is not effective.”

So what does the council propose? Send an enforcement employee(s) out every morning to catch someone putting their trash out too early How much will that cost through time for employee wages and vehicle expense? Who wants that job anyway? Maybe the council can rotate among themselves.

There’s a simple solution. Mandate bear-proof containers. Give folks a reasonable timeline, say six months or a year to comply. Engage the local service organizations to help retro-fit existing containers. Once the grace period has passed, ask (or mandate) the three trash collection companies to simply not pick up from a non-bear-resistant container. That will get the non-compliant’s attention without having to pay a fine. Problem solved.

Come on, council. Time to do the necessary thing, even if it is not universally popular. The bears will be waking up soon.

Dr. Curtis J. Comeau

Steamboat Springs

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