SHERIDAN — In a bid to reduce bear disturbances, the animal control department in Dayton has installed new trash cans in Scott Centennial Park April 5. Although wildlife can be beautiful, it can also be a hassle.

Scott Centennial Park is the largest park in Dayton, acting as a leisure zone for children and adults. Being that the park sits on the river, raccoons, squirrels and bears are drawn to the park and often use it as a sanctuary. For the safety of Dayton residents, two bear-proof trash cans were installed in the park’s gazebos to prevent animals from being attracted to the public space.

The cans are large and heavy which prevents animals from being able to tip or scoot them. They also have a locking latch and reduce odor. All of these elements are meant to keep animals out. Installing bear-proof cans for the park was a priority for Dayton’s Animal Control.

“It was concerning for the whole town,” said Lorren Lane, Dayton Animal Control Officer. “There are lots of kids that go to that park and go deep in the brush to use the swimming hole, and our park is just a refuge for these animals. It’d be terrible if something happened.”

The Animal Control has submitted their budget to be processed with the city council for a few more trash cans. Larger dumpsters, like those that already exist, have already been worked into the budget because the occasional need to replace them.

According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, new bear-resistant containers will soon be available for campers on the Bighorn National Forest as well.

Later this spring, the U.S. Forest Service will install food storage lockers for Sibley, Prune Creek and Pine Island campgrounds.”

Still, some would take the risk of bears to be a part of nature.

“It’s kind of fun, especially this last five years I’ve had with the Animal Control,” Lane said. “It’s Wyoming. That’s what we live here for, for the nature and the wild.”

Fortunately, the people of Dayton understand the dangers of living with the wilderness and do their best to avoid harm. Residents are asked to wait until trash day to take out their cans, bag their garbage and make sure their cans have lids.

“Even with the cans, we’re going to get bears anyway,” Lane said. “Wildlife isn’t just Disney stuff. It can’t be taken for granted but it can be dangerous…People tend to know that and tend to keep their distance. It’s reassuring to know that people know how to act around our wildlife.”

The Animal Control in Dayton have bear sightings regularly even throughout the winter. They follow certain protocols when this happens, including closing down the park on a few occasions.

“It’s just important to be proactive,” Lane said. “I really appreciate the city council working with us on this and financing the cans.”

Although life in Wyoming can never be totally free of fuzzy animals, cooperative action like these bear-resistant trash bins can improve the safety for everyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors.


By Marissa Brenneman