Residents and businesses in a large swath of Missoula and much of its outlying areas, as well as in Potomac, will be required to use bear-resistant garbage containers within the next three years.
The requirement, approved separately in recent weeks by the Missoula City Council and Missoula County Commission, follows a yearslong effort to reduce bear-human conflict in the area by securing attractants like garbage that condition bears to feast on unnatural foods in human environs. Technically, the requirement was implemented through a revision of the Missoula City-County Health Code governing solid waste storage. The Missoula City-County Health Department revised the code to drastically expand the Bear Buffer Zone and to require bear-resistant containers in the zone. County commissioners approved the code change at their Sept. 28 regular meeting. The City Council approved the change at its Oct. 16 regular meeting.
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The expanded zone covers all of the South Hills, Pattee Canyon, Miller Creek, East Missoula, Bonner, Rattlesnake, Grant Creek, La Valle Creek, Butler Creek, Wye north of Interstate 90, Big Flat, O’Brian Creek, Blue Mountain residential areas, and the north, west and south edges of Orchard Homes.