Division of Wildlife asks county to adopt trash laws to protect bears
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. The Colorado Division of Wildlife is asking Garfield County for at least the third time to consider passing an ordinance aimed at reducing bear temptations around homes and businesses.DOW district wildlife manager Sonia Marzec said she e-mailed county manager Ed Green Thursday, asking for another meeting with county officials to discuss the idea. She made the request the same day DOW officers ended up shooting and killing a bear outside Glenwood Springs city limits in West Glenwood after reports of people feeding and petting it.The city has an ordinance addressing handling of trash, birdseed and other possible bear attractants. Some other area governments in bear-prone areas also have such ordinances, but Garfield County commissioners have repeatedly declined to take the same route.One issue is that the county’s bear problem is limited to only certain parts of the county, so countywide regulations aren’t warranted. However, Marzec noted that Eagle County this week passed an ordinance that has restrictions applying only to areas with bear problems.The DOW and Glenwood Springs police have decided to send out notices to residents in problem areas around town, along with all restaurants, lodges and gas stations, alerting them that violators of the city trash ordinance and a statewide DOW regulation against feeding wildlife would be cited. The DOW also plans to issue notices to those outside city limits in areas such as West Glenwood.However, DOW officials say the agency’s regulation wasn’t intended to deal with the kinds of problems being experienced, and the $68 fine for violating it isn’t an adequate deterrent. They say their focus is on wildlife management, and it’s not their job to do something about people’s trash problems. “Our regulations aren’t geared toward dealing with these kind of situations,” said DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. “It’s not a sufficient fine to be prohibitive. If there’s a problem there, and there is, we really need the municipalities or the county to step in and do something.”Among other things, the city’s ordinance prohibits leaving trash containers out overnight unless they are in bear-proof containers. Fines can go as high as $1,000 for repeat offenders, but offenders first receive a warning, and a $50 fine for a second offense can be waived if they buy and use a wildlife-resistant container.Police chief Terry Wilson said the goal of the city is education and compliance rather than punishment for noncompliance. But he said education remains a problem. On Friday morning a bear had dumped a lot of trash in south Glenwood because people had put out unsecured trash containers the previous night.Wilson said he thinks it would be helpful to have a county ordinance for continuity’s sake because the bear problem crosses city/county lines.County commissioners decided against adopting an ordinance last September. County planning director Fred Jarman said one reason is that they first want the DOW to run its ideas by Sheriff Lou Vallario, who would be in charge of enforcement.Jarman said county planners try to address the issue with new developments through covenants that deal with bear attractants such as dog food, grills and bird feeders.Meanwhile, DOW employees and volunteers have continued to work to educate residents and businesses in areas outside city limits, including at campgrounds.This week, a black bear killed a boy who was in a tent in Utah. The bear DOW officers killed in West Glenwood reportedly was being fed by people camping at Ami’s Acres Campgrounds.Marzec said the campground’s operators have been working to secure trash and inform campers who come from other areas about taking steps to avoid attracting bears. She said the same goes for Glenwood Canyon Resort in No Name.The DOW this week provided further training to staff there. The resort’s general manager, Ken Murphy, said even its raft guides participated so they could spread the message to people while on the water.”Bears are going to find themselves on the property. We don’t want to create an environment that’s going to make them come back and back,” Murphy said.Contact Dennis Webb: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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