In 2008, $10,000 in capital outlay was appropriated for equipment and receptacles that lead to bear-proof communities.
New Mexico is home to the black bear, whose population is valued by New Mexicans and managed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF). When bears become habituated to humans and their trash, both bears and humans lose. Human safety is put at risk because of potential contact with a large wild animal, and bears are often killed when an incident occurs. States have been subject to litigation when they were aware that bears were being drawn to communities but did nothing to mitigate the problem. Many of New Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations are mountain communities that support healthy bear populations. Yet many of those communities in “bear country” need financial assistance to transition public trash receptacles and restaurant dumpsters to bear-proof containers that won’t attract bears and create safety risks in the communities.
* Many other bears have had to be tranquilized and removed from the area.
Helping communities in bear country provide bear-proof trash receptacles to reduce opportunities for human-bear conflicts, and to stop the dangerous cycle of habituation of bears to human trash.
It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that human-bear conflicts don’t occur. Angel Fire, Red River and Ruidoso are tourist destinations located in bear country. All three towns have a keen interest in ensuring that human-wildlife conflicts don’t occur, and they have been actively working to mitigate bear problems.
- Red River already has 20 bear-proof dumpsters and with additional capital would buy 26 more.
- Angel Fire already has 55 bear-proof dumpsters, and with additional capital would purchase machinery to process grease into bio-fuel for garbage trucks, eliminating all outdoor restaurant grease traps that lure bears into town. They also could buy 10 bear-proof dumpsters.
- Ruidoso already has installed bear-proof latches on dumpsters and with additional capital would purchase a bear-proof dumpster/compactor.
Bear-proof trash containers range in price from $576 (2 yard)–$1,222 (8 yard). Most communities use 3- or 4-yard containers that cost $595 and $804 each, respectively.