In the last few years McCloud has had an increasing problem with bears in town. Bears regularly roam the alleys at night getting into trash cans looking for tasty treats and leaving large piles of their calling card along with the scattered garbage.

The McCloud Community Services District office receives calls almost daily with complaints from people who have to deal with their neighbors’ messes. The District has sent out newsletters informing residents to not leave their refuse out. They advise to take the trash out the morning of – and not the night before – trash pick-up day on Monday mornings.

But not everyone follows that advice.

This year the bear problem is worse, according to MCSD Public Works Superintendent Amos McAbier, who said, “If everyone in town put their trash cans in their garage and then take them out at 8 a.m. on Monday, we wouldn’t have as much of a bear problem. The best thing to do is to keep your trash locked up until trash morning. There are a lot of people in town that don’t appreciate having to clean up their neighbor’s trash after the bears have gotten in it. Putting a bungee cord on it doesn’t work because the bears will destroy the can to get it open and our refuse trucks are not able to empty the can with the automated arm when it has a bungee cord holding it shut.”

Because it has become such a common occurrence, MCSD will start charging $42 per hour if they have to come to clean up trash due to complaints.

McAbier said Fish and Wildlife does not relocate problem bears because of cost, and they will end up euthanizing a problem bear that is threatening. But Fish and Wildlife should be contacted about dead or wounded bears.

Tom Stienstra, who has lived on the outskirts of McCloud for 35 years, said even if trash cans are empty but smelly it will attract bears, as will unwashed recyclables that are left out.

“People don’t think of the bird seed or dog and cat food they leave out that are an invitation for bears,” Stienstra said. “When I go fishing, I put the fish guts in the freezer until trash day. In all the years I have lived here, and I have had many bear encounters, not one has gotten food from me. They come by and keep on going. If we don’t leave food out they will go back to eating what they are supposed to eat and go back to behaving like they should.”

According to Fish and Wildlife, McCloud Flats has one of the highest bear densities in California, next to national parks.

A few tips offered by McAbier and residents to help keep bears out of your trash:

• Keep your trash can clean from smells. Wash it with ammonia because bears don't like that odor.

• Store your trash can in a locked garage or shed.

• McCloud residents should take their trash out at 8 a.m. on Monday only.

• Keep food scraps in your freezer until trash day.

• Do not leave pet food or dirty pet food dishes out at night. This includes bird seed.

• If you’re going out of town, have a neighbor take your trash out for you on Monday morning.