Roanoke County Leaders Addressing Bear Issue

Roanoke, VA - It's no secret that Roanoke County is home to lots of bears, and that can lead to a lot of problems. But the county has been forging a unique relationship with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to keep people's trash safe from prying bear claws.

A video shows a bear at the Virginia Tech Black Bear Research Center doing his best to get into a modified Roanoke County trash can. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries approached the county earlier this year about putting together this video to educate the public.

"It is a true issue we have in Roanoke County right now," said Nancy Duval.

Duval is the county's solid waste manager and is also the one that takes the calls when bears come calling.

"We probably get two/ three calls a week from residents who are having issues with bears and want to know what they can do about it. I'm sure there are people all over the county that have this problem that don't call us," said Duval.

Some would call it part of the trade-off for living in the mountains.

"We've had quite a few sightings this summer," said Brian Chisom.

Chisom looks at it differently.

"A bonus. Most the people living up here enjoy the outdoors. Seeing the deer, the bears, the turkeys," said Chisom.

Both sides agree more can be done to keep bears from getting too used to coming for dinner.

"We keep our Toter in the garage so that has helped out quite a bit. We rinse meat packages before we put them in the trash things like that. We certainly don't feed bears either," said Chisom.

Many residents in the Laurel Ridge neighborhood, considered one of the county's "bear hot spots," use various forms of simple locking devices that, as you can see, are true and tested.

Now the county is moving a step further by actually helping residents purchase bear proof cans in the event your handy skills aren't up to the task.

County leaders have voted to accept a $10,000 DGIF grant that will go to this project.

The money is expected to cover half the cost of these new cans... with the citizen picking up the other half.