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Teton County to require bear-proof trashcans countywide

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JACKSON, Wyo. – After months of pressure from local conservation groups, business owners and residents, the Teton County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to require bear-proof trash cans and dumpsters countywide.

The commission enacted the change by approving an adoption of amendments to the Teton County Land Development Regulations. The amended regulations also prohibit feeding all wildlife and updated standards for storing wildlife attractants.

Key changes to the regulations include:

  • Prohibition of feeding for all wildlife, not just the listed species in the current section which are antelope, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, bobcats, black bears, grizzly bears, mountain lions, lynx, wild bison, wolves, coyotes, foxes and racoons
  • Food- and fruit-bearing gardens shall be properly fenced and maintained
  • Bird feeders shall follow design requirements at all times of the year
  • All trash shall be stored in a certified bear resistant container or dumpster countywide
  • Construction sites shall have bear resistant trash containers
  • Additional language for ensuring attractants are kept in bear resistant enclosures such as grease from food service, chicken coops and feed, apiaries, compost, livestock and fish food
  • Design requirements for bear resistant enclosures included in Land Development Regulations

Much of the push for the updated regulations stemmed from the recent concerns over infamous Grizzly 399 and her cubs repetitively getting into trash and other wildlife attractants last fall before going into hibernation, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide. The new regulations are intended to help keep the 399 bear family, other wildlife and the Teton County community safe.

A petition started by wildlife photographer Savannah Rose for the Teton County Commissioners titled “Jackson Hole – Mandatory Bear Proof Trash Cans in Teton County – Save the Cubs” received more than 75,000 signatures and helped spur the meeting. Rose is working alongside Wyoming Wildlife Advocates to help the community get bear-safe trashcans, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Before the April 12 meeting, bear cans were only required in parts of Teton County identified as bear “priority conflict areas.” The new requirements will not apply to the Town of Jackson, however, which follows its own regulations under their incorporation.

Regulations will take effect July 1 this year and will begin being enforced on Nov. 1, 2022. The 11-month gap allows residents and business owners time to secure bear-safe trash cans and become fully in compliance with the updated regulations while also hiring additional staff as the county only has one code-compliance officer at the moment, according to County Commissioners.

Jackson Hole Bear Solutions, a new program from Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, will financially assist residents and trash-hauling companies comply with the new regulations, according to reporting by Buckrail. The program has created a can-loaning program with a $50 rental fee for indefinite use.

Violations will be handled administratively, and landowners will receive a notice to inform them of the violation from the planning director or code compliance officer.

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