Enclosures should be placed back far enough to be clear of snow berms in the winter and preferably not more than 10 feet. If you are unsure of a good placement location, contact STR for advice.Be Bear Aware
Don't Feed the Bears!

The local saying goes “a fed bear is a dead bear.” That’s because bears that get into garbage become nuisance bears who might pose a threat to people and their property. Potentially dangerous bears are usually killed. Thus, it’s important not to feed bears with your garbage. Even the best prevention device will not work if not used properly. Most animal problems we see result from people failing to latch the dumpster, having a bear box, unsecured lids or cans with no lids, cracked or damaged cans or cans being left outside unsecured.  So always think “Bear-Aware” and remember to securely latch your garbage container. For excellent educational information about bears in our area, visit the local Bear League.

To prevent bears from getting in your trash, we encourage customers to consider purchasing an animal-resistant enclosure. South Tahoe Refuse does not sell bear enclosures. A list of local vendors who sell county approved bear enclosures is provided below. Be sure to check with local communities, homeowners groups, governing entities, public works departments or STR to become aware of any restrictions on enclosure types or placement. Some jurisdictions, such as El Dorado County, require the installation of bear enclosure for new home construction and most remodels in the South Lake Tahoe area or after repeated bear intrusions.

List of Bear Resistant Enclosures Vendors

A loan program is available for residential homeowners in the South Lake Tahoe service area looking for a simple way to fit the cost of bear-resistant garbage can enclosures into monthly budgets. Under the program, eligible homeowners can apply for a five-year, interest-free loan that is repaid through a separate billing.

Loan Program Summary

Before investing in a bear-resistant garbage enclosure, please review the following considerations, which are based on our years of experience in the industry and area served.

Desirable Features
  • Double-can enclosures are preferable to single-can models as they allow for storage of extra garbage and Blue Bags.
  • Single door entry. The fewer the doors, the fewer the access points for a marauding bear. Also, single door access is more likely to be properly secured by the user (homeowner or renter) and thus is more resistant to animal break-ins. Doors should be large enough to easily remove lidded 32-gallon cans plus any extra bags or boxes, without spilling contents.
  • Front-door entry is less susceptible to water collection than top-door models, resulting in less freezing, icing and seepage. Some top door models have corrected the problem by using a gutter.
  • Plunging pins securing both top and bottom in locking mechanism.
  • Keyed flush-mount entry lock. Protruding handles and surface-mount locks are more likely to be broken. Standard key access for this area is the solid square key. Tapered keys are less likely to get stuck or remain positioned in the lock mechanism.
  • Inside safety levers for emergency egress to help prevent children from being locked inside.
  • Rolled metal at access points. Flat metal door edges tend to provide an easier grip for the claw of the bear. Rolled metal door edges provide strength to the door (to prevent bending) and a more difficult edge to claw open.
  • Roofs with side or back snow shedding. Roofs that shed forward will drop snow in front of the door, blocking access.
  • Air vent
  • A seller who stands behind their product. Be certain the person who sells the product is ready, willing, and available to repair any problems or damages that may arise.
  • STR does not repair Bear Boxes.

Placement of Enclosure

  • South Tahoe Refuse is happy to meet with you at your site, free of charge, to discuss the most suitable location for your enclosure.
  • All enclosures should be elevated above the ground to prevent access problems with ice and snow. Single pole mounts should be sufficiently sturdy to withstand bear attacks and snow load.
  • If the proposed placement of the enclosure is more than 10 feet from the road, please contact our office for approval. Such placements may require additional weekly service fees.
  • It’s always prudent to check with local communities, homeowners groups, governing entities, public works departments or STR to become aware of any restrictions imposed on enclosure types or placement locations.

Use and Maintenance of Enclosure

  • Never allow children to play in, on, or around enclosure.
  • Educate all tenants or guests on proper usage of the enclosure.
  • Keep enclosures accessible on service day and ensure there is a clear path to the Bear Box (unobstructed by snow, parked cars, etc.).
  • Use lids on cans in enclosure to help suppress odors. (No screw-on lids.)
  • Latch doors firmly in closed position.
  • IMPORTANT: Always leave keys out of door lock mechanism. Keys left in the lock can be broken off by a bear, damaging the lock mechanism.
  • If the door is damaged, do not force it closed, as it will probably damage the hinge. See your representative for repair.
  • Inspect enclosure periodically. Check weld points, hinges, paint, rust, and cement pedestal. Check garbage cans for wear, especially on bottom. Keep a clean shed to avoid odors.




Contact us 530.541.5105
Photo by:  Jennifer Ward, Customer Service Representative
We are seeing construction utility boxes being used as enclosures for trash. While we appreciate that some customers are purchasing these utility boxes with the best intentions of addressing wildlife issues, utility boxes are not designed to be used as garbage enclosures. They do not hold 32-gallon trash cans. Bagged and loose garbage in utility boxes attracts bears to the smell.

We are not able to empty these utility boxes with our equipment and our employees are not able to unload them by hand. Trying to unload them will lead to damage to the utility box and injury to our employees. 

South Tahoe Refuse and Recycling is administering a Bear Box Loan Program, which provides no interest loans for installation of approved animal-resistant garbage can enclosures. Please feel free to contact our office at 530-541-5105 if you wish to discuss this or other service options. 
Notice Regarding Utility Boxes