Zakopane installs animal-proof bins with ‘special tops’ to stop wildlife rummaging for food
Special bins to stop wild animals from using them as food sources have been installed in the mountain resort of Zakopane.
A popular tourist destination, the town has long had a problem with animals including foxes, deer and even bears foraging in its bins and often becoming a tourist attraction themselves.
But this has led to an increased danger to the public as well as to the animals which can become ill from eating unhealthy human foods.
Tomasz Zając from the Tatra National Park told the Polish Press Agency: “The animals are attracted by the smell of food and the ease of getting it.
“Often, it’s something sweet, so it tastes good to them. It’s like with people who can’t help reaching for cakes and not for healthy food.
“The harm to animals is that they don’t obtain their food in a natural way, even though they have plenty of it, because they have become used to the leftovers of human food, which are available all year.”
He added: “Often tourists themselves, feed the animals, and take photos with them. For tourists, it’s a bit of fun, but for the animals, it can end tragically.”
Last year, a deer became so used to being fed by tourists that it even let itself be stroked.
However, its diet of junk food from the hands of tourists, meant that it was seen at one time lying on the grass unable to move.
The same deer has not been seen again this year and experts fear it may have died.
Another high profile past case was that of a brown bear and her cubs from the 1990s. The bear, called Magda, became so reliant on eating human food around the Tatras, that she came into regular contact with people and was ultimately deemed a danger and had to be rehoused in a zoo.
The new bins, a collaboration between Zakopane and the Tatra National Park, have been installed on several popular tourist roads leading from Zakopane to the national park which are particularly well-known foraging spots for deer.
Alicja Olkuska-Kowalczyk from the department of environmental protection at the City of Zakopane said: “We bought 15 bins which have a special top. It means that the deer won’t be able to put their head inside the bin.”
If the new bins prove a successful deterrent, the town has pledged to expand the scheme by buying more special bins and putting them in other locations around the town.