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Tahoe Community’s ‘Wall of Shame’ Could Reduce Human-Bear Interaction

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A black bear is shown sitting up in an undated photo. (AP)

A black bear is shown sitting up in an undated photo. (AP)

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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (AP) — A group of residents is resorting to a new strategy to help reduce the number of bear-human conflicts in their north Lake Tahoe community.

Several Incline Village residents are photographing business Dumpsters that are not properly closed and secured as required by a local ordinance and posting them with the offenders’ names on a Facebook page called the “Lake Tahoe Wall of Shame.”

There are currently at least 16 such photos of bins with unsecured trash on the page, the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reported.

Group leader Mark E. Smith said he thinks bear-human conflicts would drop dramatically at Tahoe if businesses were more conscientious about securing their trash.

“The evidence suggests that trash is the primary attractant that leads bears out of the wilderness and, in turn, leads to interactions between humans and bears,” he said. “Therefore, our biggest problem is the failure to enforce the trash ordinance.”

Residents had similar problems securing trash from bears prior to 2008, when a campaign to strictly enforce the Incline Village General Improvement District’s trash ordinance resulted in greater compliance, Smith said.

Smith is asking IVGID to do the same with local businesses, saying they’re the culprit in the latest round of bear problems. The wall of shame surfaced after the controversial killing of a nuisance bruin in July that was captured at an Incline Village shopping center.

While many owners are being “very proactive” by complying with the ordinance, uncooperative businesses are being exposed on the wall of shame, Smith said.

“In the vast majority of cases, we are asking people to close the Dumpster and latch it,” he said. “It’s pretty simple stuff.”

IVGID is committed to stepping up enforcement of the trash ordinance in the community, said Joe Pomroy, its director of public works.

“We are working with the businesses to educate them regarding the importance of shutting and latching Dumpsters,” Pomroy told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. “If that fails, then we will fine them.”

Fines are $100 for a first offense and $300 for repeat offenses.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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