Since early summer I set up a remote camera in Issaquah Highlands in hopes of capturing a photo of the resident black bear. Finally in September, I was thrilled to finally capture this video of the bear, but I was not happy the bear was eating garbage.
For the past several years black bears have been lured into our neighborhood for a buffet of treats from our garbage that many people leave outside their homes. This past summer the bears were frequent visitors to Wisteria Park where I set up a remote camera in Maggie’s yard. The bears were entering the neighborhood through her yard, as well as other neighbors’ yards. Once the bears smelled ripe garbage they wandered down the alley pulling out trash from garbage cans and brought the garbage back to Maggie’s yard where they ripped open the bags to eat everything.
Maggie and some of her neighbors living next to the greenbelt store their garbage in their garages until the morning of pick-up to deter bears. Unfortunately, many of her neighbors do not follow the same Bear Smart practices;see tips for coexistence at https://westernwildlife.org/black-bears/tips-for-coexistence/. In 1995 a study in Pinetop Lakes, Arizona showed that by storing garbage inside until the morning of garbage pick-up reduced bear/garbage incursions from 68% to just 2% http://www.bearsmart.com/report/321.
Bears have an acute sense of smell. They can smell garbage that is stored outside and birdseed from a mile away. Bears also have an incredibly good memory. Once a bear finds a food source, such as garbage, birdseed, even biodiesel, it makes a mental map and will then return year after year to that site. That is why it is especially important to be consistent and for everyone in a neighborhood to always store their garbage inside or in a bear resistant container.
If you are having problems with garbage and bears in your neighborhood, you may want to talk with your neighbors about what they can do to prevent bear incursions or just print this bear smart check list at the bottom of the page https://westernwildlife.org/our-work/gbop-products/ and send it to your neighbors. That is what I did in my community in the Issaquah Highlands, and it is making a difference for us and the bears.