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Foothill residents in Duarte look for ways to keep bears out of trash cans

Nita Norgard was popping popcorn in the kitchen of her Duarte Mesa home, the buttery fragrance wafting out through the backdoor left ajar, through the open garage, into the forested areas beyond.

Still, she was surprised to find a 2-year-old bear sniffing around the front room when she turned around. Norgard screamed, and the bear bolted, said her husband, Bill Norgard.

"Probably scared him just as much," he joked.

The Norgards' close encounter with a bear six months ago is one of many incidents that have led Duarte city officials to look for ways to keep bears from ripping into residents' garbage cans.

Some residents complained this week to the Duarte City Council that their bear-resistant trash bins are no match for increasingly aggressive bears. In response, officials with Burrtec Waste Industries, which hauls trash for the city, said they would soon offer a stronger alternative.

The new bins, with three security latches instead of one, would cost participating residents $6 more a month.

“Nothing is totally bear proof,” Mayor Margaret Finlay said today, “but I think it will be enough to discourage them enough so that berries might start looking pretty good again.”

The bears have been creeping down from hillier areas into lower foothill neighborhoods over the last year as their habitats have been scarred by wildfires, residents said.

"Anything the bear would like to eat, we put in the freezer -- honey, peanut butter, cottage cheese, meat, food scraps, bread, they're not real big on vegetables -- and on trash day we put it in the trash can," said Bill Norgard, a 35-year resident of Duarte Mesa, a hilly neighborhood in Duarte.

He said he had never seen a bear on his property until four years ago.

Duarte Mesa residents are not allowed to put out their bins until 6 a.m. on trash day. City officials were considering expanding the rule to two lower foothill neighborhoods, but residents protested.

In response, the idea was dropped, but Deputy City Manager Karen Herrera praised Burrtec's efforts to build bear-resistant bins.

"It's all about minimizing that food source," she said. "Because that is what attracts the bears."

In any case, enterprising bears can always find a way into a plastic bin, said Richard Nino, director of municipal services for Burrtec.

"They just shatter the upper half of the container," he said. "They can hop on it; they may lean on it and pop off the lid, claw at it. They are very determined to get in there."

-- Amina Khan

 
Comments () | Archives (3)

Bears do not like big dogs or loud noises like that made by sports referee whistles. I have a similar problem and I have a motion activated light in the area of the backyard. When the lights go on the dogs go out and then the barking confrontation begins. Then I open the window and blow the whistle. The intruding bears(s) leave immediately. A bit inconvenient but certainly effective.

obvious solution. the bears are hungry. at six dollars per trash bin per month. how much would it cost to feed the bears in the hills away from the homes? use scraps from local supermarkets. and restraunts. just haul them up and keep em critters off your back patio dadio.

How about stop issuing primits for housing in the Bears natural habitat.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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