Cody landfill fence keeps bears out of trash

Bears love trash, but feeding on human garbage is not good for bears. When bears are rewarded by easy access to garbage they can get habituated to human food and become more likely to seek out people and trash. We all know the saying, and the reality: “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

A black bear digs through garbage - not good! (Photo courtesy Mandy Stantic.)

A black bear digs through garbage - not good! (Photo courtesy Mandy Stantic.)

The Park County Regional Landfill is located just outside of Cody, Wyoming – which is certainly bear country. Bears started clueing in to the Cody landfill around 2010, and they’ve been visiting more frequently in recent years to get not only at the garbage, but also at the animal carcasses that are buried every day in the landfill’s dead-animal pit. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) recognized the need to keep bears out of this landfill and asked Park County commissioners to provide $7,000 to help build an electric fence to keep wildlife out. The commissioners issued a challenge. “For every dollar you get from an environmental organization, we’ll match it [up to $3,500],” the commissioners said. Because we want to support efforts like this that help keep bears wild and people safe, we contributed $3,500 to the project. 

And we’re not the only ones wanting to help reduce conflicts between humans and bears. In addition to GYC and Park County, this roughly $28,000 project was also funded by the Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Outdoorsmen, and the Western Bear Foundation.

Thank you to all these organizations for their help in building this 9,000-foot fence that will keep bears out of the Cody Landfill. And thank you to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Bear Wise Community Coordinator Dusty Lasseter. We applaud this project as well as WGFD efforts to educate folks living in bear country to be bear aware and promote bear-safe behaviors. 

We continue to keep bears wild and people safe through on-the-ground work to reduce human-bear conflicts. Read about another project GYC has been working on to help bear-proof Forest Service campgrounds around the ecosystem. 

— Mac Dukart, Teton Outreach Associate