Buttoning-up trash cans becoming a bear necessity
With bears continuing to find easy food in and around Garfield County towns each summer and fall, several Carbondale residents, concerned students and wildlife officials met with the county commissioners on Monday to discuss how to better keep bears at bay.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife official Perry Will explained at Monday’s meeting in Glenwood Springs that once a bear hits a trash can or other food source and is rewarded, it can be impossible to get rid of them.
While Glenwood Springs and Carbondale are working on or already have established trash ordinances to help keep bears and other wildlife out, with fines to those that don’t comply, others just outside town limits do not have the same regulations.
Katy Curry, teacher at Bridges High School in Carbondale, presented on a project she supervised in which several students looked at the issue in depth.
“Bears start on the outside of town and they find their way into town by means of us leaving trash out,” said Bridges student Dylan Fenske during the presentation.
“The biggest problem we are seeing is bears come in from outside of town and the first thing they come upon is the unincorporated parts,” Curry added. “When they find trash there and food that is accessible for them, it encourages them to keep coming back.”
Curry, Fenske and Will, with support from Glenwood Springs and Carbondale officials, asked for regulations to be extended outward to a two-mile development radius in an effort to help discourage bears from coming farther into town.
An emergency town ordinance passed in Carbondale in 2014 required new trash regulations for residents, including bear resistant containers, where trash containers can be placed and how long they can be outside.
Fines for violation was $100 for the first, $250 for the second and $500 for the third, with the first violation waived if the offender purchases a bear-resistant container for the property. Glenwood Springs has similar rules, also with fines up to $500.
Will said he would like to lessen the burden on officers who spend their summers dealing with bears in town.
“Anything we can do to reduce bears in and around town,” he said. “We are asking for some kind of teeth to help deal with these bears.”
Wildlife officials reported going door-to-door in unincorporated areas of the county and asking the residents to try to button up their trash cans, only to find no change in their behavior a week later.
“In and around town is the biggest problem,” Perry added. “It’s time we do something about it.”
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky recommended hosting a work session to come up with a solution.
Commission Chairman John Martin agreed and wanted to continue the conversation so that “we have all the players at the table, so that we can get some direction and can come back and get a final decision.”