Grizzlies in Park County Landfill

Park County’s commissioners say they won’t give money to stop attracting bears to the county landfill, until environmentalists give money to the project. That was their answer to a request for $7000 to help build an electric fence around the only Yellowstone area landfill in occupied grizzly bear habitat. Two conservative hunting organizations have already pledged to help.

Wyoming’s Game and Fish department has trapped five grizzly bears that came here in search of food.

Game and Fish Bear Wise Coordinator Dusty Lasseter said, “The first bear showed up at the landfill in 2010. Now as this population has grown and expanded, we’re starting to see bears there on a yearly basis.”

There are three big compost heaps of animal carcasses at the landfill. The landfill supervisor thinks the smell of more than 300 animals dumped here each year probably attracts grizzlies. He says he warns his workers to watch for sign, like tracks and scat.

Lasseter asked the state, the BLM, and hunting organizations to help pay for a 9000 foot electric fence around the landfill, to keep bears out.
The conservative hunting group, Wyoming Outdoorsmen said they would give money.

The President of Wyoming Outdoorsmen, Jay Jochim pointed out, “Many of our members would like to see grizzly bears hunted at one point. To that, we have to do everything we can to protect the bears right now to get them off the endangered species list.”

The Yellowstone Country Bear Hunters Association is donating labor to the project. Lasseter said they volunteered to help tear down old fences. He said the BLM has pledged $10,000 for the electric bear barrier.

But when he asked the Park County Commissioners for $7000 they had questions.

County Commission Chair Lee Livingston asked, “If they don’t pick up a food reward at the landfill, then what keeps them from bumping down, like Loren said, hitting McDonalds, hitting a dumpster…fencing off the landfill isn’t going to keep the bears from coming down here through town.”

The Game and Fish biologists explained the grizzlies are in the area because they’re being drawn to the landfill.

Commissioner Joe Tilden proposed a challenge aimed at organizations that sued against the delisting.

He suggested the commissioners vote, “If for every dollar you get from an environmental organization for this fence, we’ll match it.”

The motion passed, and the biologists went away empty handed. But, Lasseter was not deterred.

He said, “I think one way or the other, we’ll find the money for this project. I think it’s really important for us. So, we’re going to find a way to do it.”

Two of the commissioners voted to fund the electric fence around the landfill.

Commissioner Tilden said he proposed the challenge to “environmental organizations” as a matter of principal.