In St. Mary Parish, black bears are walking through neighborhoods and going through trash cans.
It’s an issue residents have been facing for years.
Now some residents say they just want bear-proof trash cans. But St. Mary Parish officials say they can’t provide them until 2020.
“To look out the window every morning and be like ‘okay did our garbage get hit by the bear? Am I going to have to pick up trash?'” said a frustrated Centerville resident, Jennifer Liner.
Black bears are digging through trash cans and littering the streets with garbage.
“He’ll bring it from the trash can, walk along the ditch and bring it all right here,” explained Liner. “I mean I have trash all over my yard. We have to pick up our own garbage. I pick up neighbor’s trash in my own yard. It has their billing information, medical information. I’ve picked up needles before.”
Parts of the parish, south of US 90, already have bear-proof cans.
St. Mary’s bear conflict officer, Catherine Siracusa, said the parish is renegotiating its contract with its waste company to expand services.
Still, new bear-proof cans won’t be available until at least 2020.
“When we’re looking at the bear proof system, we’re looking at a rear-loading truck. You have two workers on the back of the truck, unlocking the cans, emptying the cans and you have a driver,” said Siracusa.
In the mean time, St. Mary Parish created informational flyers for residents with tips for keeping bears away from their homes and trash cans.
“I’ve tried bleach to try to mask it with that, I’ve tried Pinesol to see if that will work but he still gets it. Everything they have told me to do and everything I can think of, I’ve done,” said Liner.
One tip on the flyer, do-it-yourself locks. But residents have to unlock their cans before trash trucks pass. And in some cases, the bears have eaten through them too.
“I even tried putting bungee cords like they told me and he tore through that too,” said the resident.
“I mean that’s what we can offer, the best at this point. The only consolation when we’re looking at this is it’s a seasonal thing,” said the bear conflict officer.
“I can’t watch what I put in my trash can because that’s my garbage can, I shouldn’t have to do that,” said Liner.
To avoid having bears raid your trash cans you can try to do the following:
Double bag smelly items and bottles.
Rinse out your trash can and clean it weekly.
Try putting the garbage out in the morning instead of overnight and use secure clamps to keep the lids closed.