Trash now bear-proof at 2 Yampa Valley Housing Authority properties in Steamboat |

Trash now bear-proof at 2 Yampa Valley Housing Authority properties in Steamboat

Grizzly bear Kobuk the Destroyer tries to get into a trash container designed by Steamboat welder Rollin Stone on Saturday at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. The bears were not able to get into the container, and it passed the test.

— Bears recently have been feasting on trash left unsecured, but there is no longer a buffet waiting for them at properties managed by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.

The Housing Authority purchased the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park in 2007, and it has long been a favorite stop for hungry black bears, along with other mobile home parks in the community like Dream Island, which continues to have bear problems.

Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley said some of the Fish Creek residents were getting ticketed by the city because bears were getting into trash.

It was becoming a financial burden, but the Housing Authority also felt it had a responsibility to discourage bears.

So the Housing Authority worked out a deal with Waste Management to lease bear-proof trash cans at a discounted rate for the 68 units.

"Just in time," Peasley said. "We've done I think all we can to help with the bear issue there."

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The Housing Authority also owns and manages the 55-unit Hillside Village Apartments.

The complex also had regular problems with bears getting into the dumpster, which some residents would not latch. The Housing Authority's maintenance worker would have to clean up the mess.

The Housing Authority spent about $7,000 to purchase two bear-proof dumpsters that automatically shut and lock.

"We're trying to make it as easy as possible to throw their trash out without taking any extra steps," Peasley said. "It's the right thing. It saves us from the headache of picking up trash. I would rather have our maintenance guy working on maintenance things rather than picking up trash."

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers were happy to see the Housing Authority investing in the bear-proof containers.

"They are a very good fixture to have for us to minimize human wildlife conflicts with bears by keeping our trash secure," Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said. "If possible, trash should be stored inside the garage or other structure."

Bear calls have been increasing lately, and there was a spike Thursday night.

"The bears were out in force last night," Steamboat Springs Police Department Commander Jerry Stabile said.

A clerk at a convenience store on Marketplace Plaza had a close encounter when he went to take the trash out.

The clerk startled the bear, and it went up on its hind legs.

The clerk went inside and called police, who came and scared the bear away.

Stabile said he was aware of an incident on Seventh Street where a bear broke the lock on a garage door to get into the trash inside the garage.

Middledorf said most of the incidents have involved unsecured trash.

Local trash haulers offer bear-proof bins for sale and lease. Local welding entrepreneur Rollin Stone has a retrofit that is certified as bear proof.

Waste Management can be contacted at 970-879-2400. Twin Enviro can be contacted at 970-879-6985. Ace’s High can be contacted at 970-870-6500, and Stone can be contacted at 970-397-1880.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland