What you need to know about bear-resistant trash containers in Jackson Hole
Human-bear conflicts have gradually increased over the decades and often occur when bears gain access to unnatural food sources, such as garbage, birdseed, or pet food. Today, an average of 71 human-bear conflicts occur annually in Teton County. New restrictions imposed by local government are aimed at mitigating these conflicts into the future.
Do I need a bear-resistant container?
Improperly stored garbage is the leading cause of human-bear conflicts in Teton County.
Updated Teton County Land Development Regulations (LDRs) went into effect last year and require all Teton County residents outside Town of Jackson limits to store trash in bear-resistant containers. As these LDR changes mandate countywide compliance, residents of areas which were previously exempt (e.g., East Gros Ventre Butte, Melody Ranch, and Rafter J) must now use bear-resistant containers for garbage storage.
Jackson’s Town Council also approved an ordinance requiring bear-resistant trash cans for Town of Jackson residents within a designated ‘Bear Conflict Zone.’ This zone encompasses areas within Town of Jackson limits where data shows that 85% of human-bear conflicts have historically occurred, most often caused by improperly stored garbage. This ordinance will go into effect on April 1, 2023. If you live inside the Town of Jackson, but outside of the Bear Conflict Zone, you are not currently required to have a bear-resistant container.
How do I acquire a bear-resistant container?
If you need a bear-resistant container it is recommended that you take the following steps.
- Contact your trash hauler directly and ask if bear-resistant containers are available.
Westbank Sanitation: (307) 733-2615
Yellow Iron (307) 734-0583
Teton Trash Removal: (307) 733-6840
- If a trash can is not available from your trash hauler, bear-resistant trash cans certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee may be available for purchase locally at Ace Hardware or available at a discount through JH Bear Solutions.
- If you purchased your own bear-resistant trash can, we recommend that you let your trash hauler know so they can remove your old trash can.
Know that by purchasing a trash container without going through your hauler, you may be responsible for repairs and upkeep of the new container.
Where can I get help securing other attractants on my property?
Although garbage is the leading cause of human-bear conflict in Teton County, bears are opportunistic omnivores and are also often attracted to bird seed, chicken coups, fruit trees, and beehives. If you would like help securing “attractants” on your property, Bear Wise Jackson Hole provides complimentary consulting services to Teton County homeowners pending staff availability. Please call the office of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation at 307-739-0968 to schedule a visit to your property!
Additional tips to avoid bear-conflict include:
- Keep garbage containers inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
- Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, indoors; the food odors can attract bears.
- Only hang bird feeders while bears are hibernating, if you wish to hang them during the spring, summer, and fall, hang them so they are inaccessible to bears and other wildlife. (link to proper hang technique).
- Store especially smelly garbage, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site.
- Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight; coolers are not bear-proof.
- When finished grilling food outdoors, burn the remaining food and grease off the grates.
- Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
- Pick fruit from trees as soon as its ripe and collect fallen fruit immediately.
- Do not put out feed for wildlife (corn, oats, pellets, three-way, nor molasses blocks). It is harmful to wildlife and prohibited throughout Teton County.
- Keep a clean camp, when camping. Store all attractants, including coolers, cooking gear, and pet food, inside a bear box or a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up and never keep food or other scented items in your tent.
- Travel in groups of four or more (when possible) in the backcountry. Carry bear spray and know how to use it.