Category Archives: Bears

Trash and Animals

Knowing the potential impact of trash on wildlife can save an animal’s life.  Did you know that …

Bird Paw  An animal can experience a fatal blockage if he swallows packaging material while attempting to eat the residue off of it?

  An animal’s head can get stuck inside certain plastic and glass containers causing suffocation or overheating?  In particular, certain yogurt containers that are narrower at the top and wider at the bottom are especially dangerous for animals.

Bird Paw  Six-pack beverage rings can get stuck around an animal’s nose, mouth and neck, blocking off her means of breathing, eating, drinking and self defense?

  Broken glass and sharp edges on cans can cut an animal’s paws and mouth as he attempts to eat food residue off of them?

To help keep animals safe, the MSPCA encourages you to use the following checklist when putting out trash:

checkmark  Rinse all of your recyclables to remove residue and odors.

checkmark  Put lids back on containers tightly. If the lids have been misplaced, crush the containers.

checkmark  Use a can opener that opens cans beneath the lip of the lids, leaving only smooth edges on the cans and lids.  Make sure to completely separate lids from cans.

checkmark  Cut up all six-pack beverage holders and other similar packaging so that there are no closed rings.

checkmark  Use critter-proof trash containers. Like Trash Knight.

checkmark  Recycle all plastic bags at your local grocery store. Don’t put plastic bags in the trash.

checkmark  Cut fishing line up into small pieces or tie it into a secure bundle so that it cannot be unwound.

checkmark  Switch to brands that have less packaging and buy food in bulk to avoid creating excess trash.

checkmark  Spread the word!  Teach your kids, friends, and family to do the same!

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Protecting Wildlife from Trash

 

By Roberta C. Barbalace

Many solid waste companies and municipal landfills have the situation well in hand; do you?

Birds, mammals, and reptiles can be injured or killed by the trash we throw away. The magnitude of the problem is growing every day, especially because some types of litter do not readily disintegrate and therefore remain in the environment as a threat for decades. To help protect wildlife and natural habitats, local cleanup campaigns and recycling plans are now being implemented.

For more information about the Trash Knight system, please visit our website at www.trashknight.com.

The Litter Problem

The amount of litter that ends up spoiling the beauty of the natural environment is not surprising considering the amount of waste we produce. Glass bottles, plastic packaging, tin cans, newspaper, cardboard, and other types of garbage litter urban and rural landscapes everywhere. According to Wildlife Fact File, about 160 million tons of trash is thrown away every year in the U.S. or approximately three and a half pounds per person each day. Paper products alone account for over 40 percent of this garbage. Sometimes the wind blows trash from overloaded garbage cans and litters the environment. Naturally litter can last for a long time depending on the disintegration of the garbage. For example aluminum cans do not disintegrate, and some plastics take decades to break down.

How Litter Threatens Wildlife

Litter can be very harmful to wildlife. Discarded fishing lines can trap the legs, wings, or neck of waterfowl such as swans or moorhens. A fishhook may get stuck in a bird’s throat. Water birds suffer lead poisoning when they accidentally swallow small lead fishing weights. Broken glass can cut the feet of foxes, coyotes, or badgers, and unbroken bottles present a hazard to various small animals. Lizards often crawl inside bottles or cans to bask warm interior, to seek protection or search for food; but they may find it difficult to squeeze out again and can die of overheating. Small mammals in search of food often get their heads caught in the openings of jars. Replacing lids on bottles and jars before discarding can help prevent animals from becoming entrapped. Birds, fish, and mammals may be ensnared by plastic six-pack holders. This can be prevented this by cutting up the plastic rings so that they do not become traps.

Animals That Use Litter

Litter may appear to be helpful to wildlife. At night in some urban areas, foxes look for garbage on the streets. Often they feed on chicken bones, pieces of hamburger, and other leftovers from fast-food meals. During the day pigeons take over from foxes, these birds often flap around a food-laden garbage can of peck crumbs on the pavement. Gulls are well-known scavengers. These birds have greatly increased their number by feeding on thrown-away food. Inland, they gather in flocks over garbage dumps, where they eat even the filthiest scraps.

Human food is not necessarily good for wild animals. Deer, for instance, love bread and sweets. These purified grain products may form gummy masses in the stomachs of ruminants and interfere with digestion. Deer may actually die from ingesting too much food with a flour base. Discarded food can also become contaminated with microorganisms that cause food poisoning. More likely, however, the wild animals will become accustomed to free handouts and be unprepared to hunt for themselves if the source of human food is cut off.

How the Waste Industry is Protecting Animals

There was a time when many animals fell victims to discarded trash in municipal dumps. In addition to the waste itself, wildlife was threatened by heavy equipment workers who did not understand how their actions could threaten a fragile ecosystem. Animals were often struck by trucks or crushed by heavy machinery. Some became entrapped in trenches, open pits or pipes. While dumps still exist in some remote locations, most are being replaced by sanitary landfills.

The evolution of sanitary and secure landfills was accompanied by environmental planning that provided protection for wildlife and guaranteed that the land would be reclaimed for future wildlife inhabitants. Some methods of protection seem to be standard procedures at most landfills and many facilities have some pet project designed to provide for the safety and continued survival of some special creature.

Butterfield Station in Phoenix, Arizona serves as a good example of what precautions are normally taken at Waste Management Inc. (WMI) owned and operated landfills. The landfill is securely fenced to exclude many animals. Strict speed limits are enforced to protect animals from being hit. At the close of every day, all refuse is covered with a six inch covering of soil to keep animals from being injured by the debris. All truck beds and other such containers are covered with tarps to keep animals out. Domestic animals are not permitted in the landfill. Any escaped debris is collected from roadways and along the perimeter of the landfill on an on-going basis. Small waste containers are provided with animal proof lids to keep wild animals from getting to the waste. Many Waste Management facilities provide special roll-off containers for small towns and villages to use during community clean-up events.

It is common for landfills to have pet projects to protect individual species that are of particular concern. Kirby Canyon Recycling and Disposal Facility in Morgan Hill, CA with help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, City of San Jose, researchers from Stanford University and consulting biologists have embarked upon a conservation plan to increase and maintain the population of the endangered Bay Checkerspot Butterfly. Approximately two hundred and fifty acres have been set aside for the checkerspot, which was nearing extinction in 1985. The Kirby Canyon Conservation Agreement, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1996, provides for: the setting aside of land; establishment of a trust fund for studies of the butterfly; management of cattle grazing to ensure appropriate balance of plant resources; habitat restoration and enhancement; and ongoing scientific monitoring of the Bay Checkerspot population. In addition, Kirby Canyon has set aside marshland for the preservation of the endangered Red Legged Frog.

Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility in Livermore, CA has implemented a special program to protect the endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox. The protection program includes many projects to protect the San Joaquin Kit Fox. Exclusion zones are placed around dens. Limited disturbance of areas adjacent to construction and storage areas must be maintained. Escape ramps are constructed in all holes or trenches greater than 2 feet deep, and sides must have a slope no greater than 45 degrees. Pipes with a diameter of four inches or greater must be inspected for kit foxes before being buried, capped or moved. Vehicles observe a 20 M.P.H. speed limit except on county, state or federal roads. Staff and visitors are instructed not to harass any Kit Fox or other unidentified fox in the vicinity of the landfill. Feeding of wildlife is not permitted. Off road traffic is prohibited. General precautions that are followed at all landfills are observed at Altamont.

The Kettleman Hills Facility in Kettleman City, CA also has protection programs for the San Joaquin Kit Fox, Giant Kangaroo Rat, the Blunt Nosed Leopard Lizard, the San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel, and two state species of concern, the Burrowing Owls and badgers.

Landfills have made great strides in protecting wildlife. But everybody must become involved in protecting wildlife from household waste. Recycling reduces the litter problem. Improvements in package construction can reduce unnecessary waste and make them less harmful to wildlife. Proper disposal methods can help to keep litter that we accumulate from becoming a death trap to wild animals. If people learn to respect the environment and are aware of the threat trash poses to wildlife, they will be less likely to litter.

What You Can Do!

There are many things that your clubs, science classes and families can do to help protect animals from being injured by trash. Below are some ideas.

  1. Look at the products your family uses. Is there a lot of extra packaging that is not needed? Tell the company by letter, phone or e-mail. They have offices set up to handle such concerns. Don’t buy from companies who refuse to reduce unnecessary packaging.
  2. Check the trash that your family discards. Does your trash get placed in an animal proof container? That will help protect animals. It is still wise to check each item that you discard. What packages could injure animals? Cut up or tie plastic bags and six pack holders into knots to prevent injury to small animals. Remove can tops completely. Seal food in leak proof bags. Put lids on bottles and jars, or plug holes before disposing of them.
  3. Get involved with community cleanup projects such as Earth Day
  4. Better yet, make community clean up a routine. If you see trash in a field or along a road, pick it up (wear gloves or some other hand protection).
  5. Teach others about the need for protecting animals from trash.

 

Trash & Wildlife

Trash and Animals

Knowing the potential impact of trash on wildlife can save an animal’s life.  Did you know that …

Bird Paw  An animal can experience a fatal blockage if he swallows packaging material while attempting to eat the residue off of it?

  An animal’s head can get stuck inside certain plastic and glass containers causing suffocation or overheating?  In particular, certain yogurt containers that are narrower at the top and wider at the bottom are especially dangerous for animals.

Bird Paw  Six-pack beverage rings can get stuck around an animal’s nose, mouth and neck, blocking off her means of breathing, eating, drinking and self defense?

  Broken glass and sharp edges on cans can cut an animal’s paws and mouth as he attempts to eat food residue off of them?

To help keep animals safe, the MSPCA encourages you to use the following checklist when putting out trash:

checkmark  Rinse all of your recyclables to remove residue and odors.

checkmark  Put lids back on containers tightly. If the lids have been misplaced, crush the containers.

checkmark  Use a can opener that opens cans beneath the lip of the lids, leaving only smooth edges on the cans and lids.  Make sure to completely separate lids from cans.

checkmark  Cut up all six-pack beverage holders and other similar packaging so that there are no closed rings.

checkmark  Use critter-proof trash containers. Click here to be directed to our Trash Knight resources and links page for ordering information.

checkmark  Recycle all plastic bags at your local grocery store. Don’t put plastic bags in the trash.

checkmark  Cut fishing line up into small pieces or tie it into a secure bundle so that it cannot be unwound.

checkmark  Switch to brands that have less packaging and buy food in bulk to avoid creating excess trash.

checkmark  Spread the word!  Teach your kids, friends, and family to do the same!

Trash Knight Facts

Q. What can the TRASH KNIGHT do for me?

A. The main use of the TRASH KNIGHT has always been to keep animals out of residential garbage, but it does other things as well.

1. The rolling and towable models are an excellent mobility aid for older folks or a simple convenience for anybody who doesn’t want to make multiple trips to the curb lugging heavy trash cans. Your garbage can be taken out on ‘trash night’ (the night before your trash service comes), to avoid having to take it out before dawn on ‘trash day’ for fear of animal intrusion.

2. The TRASH KNIGHT can get your garbage cans out of the garage. Tired of that odor when you go to get in your car?

3. The TRASH KNIGHT opens your cans for you. No more prying unsanitary lids off. Taking the garbage out is now ‘touchless’. Germaphobes rejoice!

4. Reduce your trash can expense. The Rubbermaid BRUTEtm trash can is an extremely  tough commercial grade product. They are expensive, but last a very long time, and the Trash Man can’t throw the lids when they are attached to the unit. In fact, my trash man likes the fact that he never has to pick up my trash so much that he has agreed to gently place my cans back in my TRASH KNIGHT rather than tossing them on the ground.

5. The TRASH KNIGHT can be used for storage of animal feed of almost any type. From rabbits to horses, one of our models can simplify feeding time and ensure varmint proof storage.

For more information about the Trash Knight garbage system, please visit www.trashknight.com.

How to Keep Animals Out of Outdoor Trash

Animals Getting into Your Outdoor Garbage Cans?

Not everyone has a garage or shed in which to store garbage cans until trash day, and when garbage cans are stored outside, inevitably animals looking for food get into them. Lids offer some protection, but even lids don’t always keep out hungry animals. Dogs, which are usually larger and stronger than most trash raiding culprits, knock over cans and scatter garbage all over the ground. Cats create a hole in the trash bag and gingerly pull out what they want, one piece at a time. Wild animals such as raccoons and opossums get into the garbage too, and they find what they want anyway they can.If you are forced to store your garbage cans outside, there are ingenious but easy ways to keep animals out of your trash until garbage day. These methods won’t harm the animals, and trash collectors won’t end up with chemicals or soap all over their hands. Try these ideas if you are having a problem with animals in your outdoor garbage. You won’t have to pick up household garbage from the ground again.

What You Shouldn’t Do

People sometimes pour strong chemicals such as bleach or ammonia on outdoor garbage in an effort to keep dogs, cats, opossums, raccoons, and other animals out of their garbage. These products might temporarily repel animals, but garbage handlers don’t appreciate having ammonia, bleach, and other chemicals on their hands and clothes. There are options other than messy soaps or strong chemicals that work to keep animals out of the garbage.

More importantly, don’t resort to shooting or poisoning animals that look for food in your garbage cans. Every living creature must to eat to survive, and it isn’t the fault of the animal if they are homeless or their owner lets them roam the streets. If you know where a particular animal originates from, contact the owner, and respectfully explain the problem. If politely confronting the animal owner doesn’t work, contact your local dogcatcher. Animals allowed to run the streets are sometimes the unfortunate victims of cars, guns, and poison. You’ll be doing an innocent animal a favor as well as yourself.

Stakes

If your garbage cans have handles, drive stakes into the ground where they are stored, and run the handles through the stakes. This will prevent animals such as large dogs from knocking the cans over. This along with the following ideas for keeping animals out of outdoor trashcans, might eliminate any further problems with animals getting into trashcans.

Bungee Cords

Bungee cords can be very helpful in keeping lids on trashcans. Connect bungee cords together if necessary, and secure the lids by threading the bungee cords through the handles.

Bungee cords are also helpful in keeping trashcans in an upright position. Connect bungee cords, and wrap them around more than one can. Animals trying to knock the cans over will have a difficult time when they are connected. Alternately, if you have a fence, consider using bungee cords to secure garbage cans to the fence. If an animal can’t knock them over, the lids are less likely to come off, and they’ll be forced to go foraging elsewhere.

Box the Cans

If all else fails and animals are still getting into your outdoor garbage cans, consider building a box to house trashcans. Build the box from strong plywood, and make a lid with hinges and a hasp. You’ll not only hide unsightly trashcans, but you’ll never again have to pick up trash from the ground because of animals getting into the garbage.

For more information about keeping critters out of the trash or to learn more about our Trash Knight garbage system, please visit www.trashknight.com.

 

Twelve days of Trash Knight

Twelve days of Trash Knight

(Sung to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas)

                   
On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

 

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Six geese laying
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

 

 

 

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Seven raccoons sneaking
Six geese laying
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Eight rats all eating
Seven raccoons sneaking
Six geese laying
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Nine bags a ripping
Eight rats all eating
Seven raccoons sneaking
Six geese laying
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

 

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Ten boxes for bailing
Nine bags a ripping
Eight rats all eating
Seven raccoons sneaking
Six geese laying
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Eleven coyotes dancing
Ten boxes for bailing
Nine bags a ripping
Eight rats all eating
Seven raccoons sneaking
Six geese laying
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Twelve frogs a leaping
Eleven coyotes dancing
Ten boxes for bailing
Nine bags a ripping
Eight rats all eating
Seven raccoons sneaking
Six geese laying
Five soda cans
Four blue birds
Three black bears
Two messy squirrels and
A Trash Knight System for me!

Keep bears away from your trash!

Fascinating Bear Facts

Brown Bear

Image by rofanator via Flickr

Bears in Yosemite are getting ready for winter by consuming as many as 15,000-20,000 calories per day and drinking several gallons of water. Acorns are a great source of food for bears this time of year. This data was taken from a Yosemite National Park study of bears and their habits. Remember, bears are very industrious and want to find food. Make sure your trash is secure in a Trash Knight system.

Bear Incidents

Location Incidents Damage
Parking lots 18 $10,560
Campgrounds 41 $2,125
Other areas 41 $2,462
Wilderness 10 $678
Total 110 $15,825

In addition, there have been 26 incidents of bears obtaining food from trash that was left out or from unsecured trash cans or dumpsters.
Number of incidents last year
To date: 464
Total: 512

So far this year, incidents are down 76% compared to the same time last year, and down 92% since 1998.

Activity Update (11/1/2011)

This week, a bear got food out of a cooler that was strapped to the roof of a van at Happy Isles during the day. Please store food properly at all times of day, and never leave food unattended, even if you plan to be away just a short while.
 

Bear taking the trash!

Basic Bear Biology (From Yosemite National Park, http://www.nps.gov.com)

  • Color: Most are not black but brown or even blond or reddish brown
  • Weight: Average adult male is 300 to 350 pounds and female is 200 to 250 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly grasses and berries with acorns as a favorite food
  • Hibernation:  Reduce body temperature, pulse rate, and respiration to conserve energy
  • Reproduction: Females give birth while in a half-sleep hibernation mode to a litter of one to three cubs
  • Young: Cubs remain with their mother until about 16 to 17 months of age
Black bear walks in the forestU.S. Forest Service

American black bears are suited to Yosemite’s forest habitat.

American black bears (Ursus americanus) in Yosemite National Park have long been of intense interest to park visitors and managers. Seeing one of the approximately 300 to 500 black bears in Yosemite can evoke excitement, awe, and fear. Visitors who spot a bear sauntering across a meadow or eating berries in a wetland should consider themselves lucky.

But, if the brown bear, also known as the grizzly, is on California state flag, why not look for it when in Yosemite? This is because, in California, there are no more grizzlies. When Euro-Americans arrived, they found a large population of grizzlies throughout the state. Grizzlies were a dire threat to life and property, however, and were killed in large numbers. By the early 1900s, few grizzlies and little of their prime habitat in the Central Valley remained. The last California grizzly was killed south of Yosemite in the Sierra foothills in 1922, according to one account. Black bears, in contrast to brown bears, have fared much better due to a combination of their greater adaptability around people and habitat stability.

Black bears fascinate wildlife enthusiasts due to their curious physiology and behaviors. Most of Yosemite’s black bears, despite their name, are not black but are brown in color. Truly black black bears are rare in the Southwest. Black bears vary greatly in size— the largest black bear captured in Yosemite weighed 690 pounds, which is much larger than the typical male found here that weighs 300 to 350 pounds. Bears weigh the most in fall when gorging on acorns to gain fat to survive winter—consuming up to 20,000 calories a day. (That is a lot of calories, equating to a person eating 40 Big Mac sandwiches in a day.) Bears hibernate in hollow trees or logs, under the root mass of a tree, or in caves formed by the jumble of large rocks. While hibernating, bears enter a state of reduced body temperature, pulse rate, and respiration to conserve energy and do not defecate nor urinate but can metabolically extract energy from body wastes. Their “sleep” is not a deep one, which allows them to leave the den periodically. After emerging from winter dens, bears feed largely on meadow grasses, which are low in nutrition but sustain them until berries of various plant species ripen to provide higher calories. Bears also eat ants, termites, and insect larvae ripped out of logs or dug from the ground. In terms of lifespan, the oldest bear known in Yosemite was a 28-year-old female captured in the West Valley in 2001–park biologists never saw her again.

Visitors who encounter a bear should keep their distance out of safety and respect for themselves and the animal. If visitors see a black bear in undeveloped areas, they should remain at least 50 yards from it. If they encounter a bear in developed areas, they should stand their ground and scare the bear away by raising their arms and making loud noises. Black bears may show dominance by bluff charging, especially when guarding food or cubs. Attacks are rare, and no one has been killed by a black bear at Yosemite.

Yellow road sign with a red bear image on itThe Yosemite bear management team places signs where a vehicle-bear collision has occurred in the park to educate drivers to slow down.

Park managers attempt to preserve this species that can be negatively affected by humans. First, visitors should drive the speed limit, reminded by signage placed where a bear has been hit by a vehicle. Next, visitors should avoid poor food storage practices. Management efforts by groups like the Wildlife Conservation Society study how to better make humans aware of their actions. (Academic Reports: Read about human-bear interaction.)

Bear management attitudes have changed since the early days of the park’s history when little was done to keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food. Decades ago, the National Park Service maintained several bear feeding areas in the park where bears were fed for entertainment reasons.

When visiting, visitors should expect black bears to attempt amazing acts to obtain human food. If food has been left in a car, bears will break vehicle windows, bend car frames, and pop open camper shells. To get into a trunk, they will enter the passenger area and claw through the back seat. Learn about Yosemite’s bear management and food storage regulations for campgrounds, trailheads, lodging and wilderness.

Source (more on Bear Management page):

To Learn More

Welcome!

We’ve all been there. You actually remember to take the trash out on trash night. What a feeling of accomplishment, relief and satisfaction. Now you don’t have to worry about racing down the driveway in the morning and being late for work.

Morning comes and you’re getting ready for your day. Time flies by quickly, especially if you have little ones to get to school or a lengthy commute. As you race out the door, you are met with a most unpleasant sight.

The garbage.

The garbage you so carefully placed out the night before is now laying all over your driveway, lawn, neighbor’s lawn, neighbor’s driveway, and a good portion of the street. At some point in the evening some of the following may have visited your house.

Raccoons

Preventing and controlling property damage 

Raccoons are common inhabitants of urban and semi-urban areas. Because local ordinances provide raccoons with near-total protection in many areas, dealing with damage or nuisance situations in those settings presents some unique problems. Homeowners having a problem with raccoons in garbage should store the garbage in a stout metal or plastic container and close the lid tightly. It should be wired, clamped or tied shut if necessary. If the problem persists it may be necessary to tie the can to a post or other solid object to prevent it from being tipped over, or to put the garbage cans inside the garage or outdoor shed. Raccoons may be attracted by dog or cat food left out overnight, and it may be necessary to feed pets indoors or to provide food only during the day.

Bears

Conflicts between people and bears have increased as more people build homes and cabins in rural areas. Conflicts between people and bears arise when bears damage personal property, beehives, livestock and agricultural crops.

A bear will take advantage of any foods available and will attempt to eat anything that resembles food in look, smell or taste. When natural foods such as nuts, meat berries, insects and tender vegetation are scarce, bears search actively for anything to eat. This is when bears most often come in contact with people. When bears find a source of food they will usually return regularly.

Solution

The best way to prevent this situation from occurring again is to have a proper garbage containment system in place, such as the Trash Knight. Check us out…you’ll be glad you did.

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