The Missoula City-County Health Department plans to ask the County Board of Health to approve proposed new regulations to reduce bears’ access to garbage in Missoula County at their meeting next week.

KGVO News spoke to Shannon Therriault, Environmental Health Director at the Health Department about the request for the expanded regulations.

Health Department to Request Bear Proof Garbage Containers in Wider Area

“The majority of human-bear interactions in and around the Missoula Valley are caused by unsecured trash, meaning trash that bears have access to,” began Therriault. “When bears become habituated to looking at garbage as a food source, then other problems can come about, like damage to property as they're increasing their food-seeking behavior or our pets and our kids and ourselves. You know, there are certainly public safety issues. And then of course, there's the problem for the bears themselves.”

Nuisance bears are first relocated, but if the garbage can raids continue they can be euthanized.

Therriault had more details on the ‘bear buffer zones’.

Get our free mobile app

The Bear Buffer Zone would Expand to Include Pattee Canyon and Miller Creek

“The proposed regulations are to expand the bear buffer zone around the city of Missoula,” she said. “Right now we have a bear buffer zone, but it only includes properties within the city proper, and that's not enough. When you think about it we've got a lot of county properties that are up against the bear habitat so we have to expand that zone in order to keep bears from coming, or reducing their desire to come into the populated areas of Missoula.”

The proposed bear buffer zone would get bigger and would include all of the Rattlesnake, Pattee Canyon, and the Miller Creek area. The regulations are also we're proposing are to require people to use bear-resistant containers or bear-resistant enclosures for those areas.

Therriault said the cost of a new bear-resistant container will depend on the refuse service companies.

“My understanding of the expense is that it's about $10 a month more for Grizzly Disposal customers and about $15 more per quarter for Republic customers,” she said. “There are people that sometimes say, Well, I've never seen a bear or bears and they’ve never gotten into my garbage. However, the whole point of this regulation is to help ensure that bears won't get into your garbage and that you won't have a negative interaction with a bear. So it is time in Missoula to do something like this.”

Check with Your Garbage Collection Company for Bear Proof Can Rates

KGVO reached out to Republic Services who said the fee for this reporter’s home in the Miller Creek area would remain at the $70 rate for three months. KGVO has emailed Grizzly Disposal for their fee increase, should that occur.

Therriault provided a website where KGVO website users and radio listeners can get more information about the proposed new regulations.

“Missoula County Voice would be a great place for people to get information,” she said. “There's information about how to participate in the health board meeting, or how to provide comments ahead of the health board meeting, and also just some general great information about bears and the kinds of things that attract them.”

Click here for more details.

Have You Seen Missoula's Utility Boxes? Here are 21 of Them

Missoula's Traffic Light Box Art

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM