DOW: Ordinance only part of strategy for battling bears
Bears expecting a tourist’s welcome in Glenwood Springs this year may be in for a rude awakening when they emerge from hibernation.The dining will no longer be so great, if new trash regulations that received initial approval by City Council Thursday night go into effect. The bears also could be treated less hospitably by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, which might increase efforts to drive the animals back up into the hills when they show up in people’s yards.That would be fine with two residents who spoke to City Council Thursday. After years of being told that the bear problem is in many ways actually a people problem, they contended that it’s also largely a DOW problem.Rusty Ford said the agency isn’t doing its job in responding to bear encounters in town.”It’s just a matter of time before somebody is seriously injured or killed by bears in this town,” Ford said.Council hopes to help reduce that possibility through a new ordinance that would prohibit people from putting trash out the night before its scheduled pickup unless they use bear-resistant containers. Council unanimously passed the measure, which also would prohibit leaving out pet food and other possible wildlife attractants. Bird feeders would have to be suspended from a cable or other device from April 15 to Nov. 15, and the area below the feeders kept free of accumulated seed. The ordinance received unanimous council approval but will be subject to a second reading before it would take effect.Ford said he supports efforts to keep trash from bears, but the DOW should be doing more to deal with bears, including relocating them from town.”They are not putting the bears back where they belong,” he said.Ron Madsen also expressed displeasure with DOW officers. While he also endorses the trash measure, he feared that if it’s passed, “it gives them another excuse for not doing their job.”Sonia Marzec, district wildlife manager in Glenwood Springs for the DOW, said the ordinance is only one step in dealing with bears in town. Education is another, and the DOW also is looking at making changes in how it responds to bear calls. She said she is not yet prepared to discuss those plans in detail, but the agency may step up its efforts to haze bears through means such as firing rubber pellets at them, in an attempt to drive them out of town. Marzec said the DOW also might use paintballs or other means of marking bears, so officers can better determine the activities of specific animals and respond appropriately.Barb Hovde-Brown, whose fourth-grade students at Glenwood Springs Elementary School helped push the city to consider a bear ordinance, said trash restrictions are a good approach to dealing with the animals.”Sending them back into the woods is not going to solve the problem,” she said.She said she fears the bears will just come back, and be put to death under the DOW’s policy for dealing with bears that cause repeated problems.Ford fears that the city is going to require residents to buy expensive, bear-resistant containers. But city officials said the trash measure is aimed at avoiding such a requirement.”We’re just asking the citizens to help us out in securing trash,” said council member Larry Beckwith.”I think you’re taking a very responsible step,” city resident Nicole Garrimone told council.She said she thinks it is up to residents not to encourage bears to come into town.Beckwith said it’s also important for authorities to step up efforts to try to turn back bears from neighborhoods.Council member Dave Merritt suggested that the DOW’s limited response so far is partly a result of tight staffing because the state has been forced to trim spending, leaving the agency reliant solely on hunting and fishing license fees.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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Imagine Glenwood and The City of Glenwood Springs is slated to host a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.