BY JAMES ROBINSON
Los Alamos County Councilor
I have been receiving many e-mails, text messages and phone calls concerning our increase bear activity, and I thought I would share some best practices to get us through until winter.
First, some education.
An American Black Bear, this far into the year needs to consume over 10,000 calories a day to build the weight necessary for the winter. Bears are the world’s greatest calorie counters, and easy calories are always the best. Traditionally, bears would get their calories by eating grasses, berries, acorns, and occasional meat sources. However, when these sources are limited due to drought, bears will often find their way into our roll-carts. These carts are full of better tasting, high calorie food than the bear would find in nature, and we tend to line it up nicely for them on the street. An easy way to make your calorie goal. Like a kid in a cookie jar, once they have positive reinforcement, they will keep coming back for more until the cookie jar is removed or they are punished.
Negative reinforcement of bears can range from yelling and screaming, to electric shocks, rubber bullets, and relocation. Ultimately, the bear might have to be euthanized. All because it kept coming for the cookie in the cookie jar.
This is where we, as residents of this area come in.
As our area continues to experience extreme drought, we will continue to see more and more bears coming into town looking for food. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure that they either cannot find easy food. Only then, can we assure that these bears will not have to face relocation or euthanization.
I have asked the County staff to begin procuring more bear resistant roll-carts. My goal is to get every household a roll-cart, however, this will take time to get the carts and deploy them. In the meantime, I am asking all residents of Los Alamos to get creative in keeping bears out of our roll-carts. The easiest solution is to lock the roll-cart in a garage or shed until the morning of your scheduled collection. If you have this ability, PLEASE do this right away.
For those, like myself, who do not have a garage to store our roll-carts, my first recommendation would be to find a way to secure the lid of your roll-cart. I have included a link below showing how this can be done using ratchet straps. Another option is to purchase an electric fence (similar to those used for dogs) and build a barrier around your roll-carts. Bears are very pain adverse and often will give up after one shock. Below, I have included another link for electric fencing for bears.
Other options I have heard is cleaning your roll-cart regularly with ammonia, or even storing dirty diapers in the cart. We are a creative community. I feel we can come up with a million ways to build a better bear resistant roll-cart.
Ultimately, it is up to each and every one of us to protect our bears. I will continue to work on community wide efforts to help our citizens, however, due to the limitations of the Anti-Donation Clause, many of these options are up to the individual household.
As the adage goes, “a fed bear, is a dead bear”. Los Alamos has already seen one bear attack, and a mother bear and cubs relocated. Most likely, these bears will not be the last. By changing our habits, and working a little harder, we can make sure we live in harmony with our bears. It is up to us to take responsibility for the waste we generate.
If you would like to learn more about bears, I would encourage everyone to tune in for the virtual Bear Festival. Details can be found at https://peecnature.org/
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ratchet Straps Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAilTfoUfC4&app=desktop
Electric Fence: http://bearsmartdurango.org/electric-fencing/