DOW wants more bear-proof bins
Wildlife officers appealed to the Garfield County Commissioners Monday to require bear-proof trash containers where the hungry bruins have been a nuisance.Colorado Division of Wildlife officer Sonia Marzec said bears have become a problem in areas such as West Glenwood where people leave garbage out to be picked up at the curb. The smelly trash proves too much of a temptation for bears.”We’ve had continuing problems with bears and trash there,” she said. The bears are no dummies. They know what day the trash is picked up and hit the containers the night before, Marzec said. It is especially problematic for DOW because West Glenwood is outside of city limits. Glenwood does have a bear-proof container ordinance in place.The Elk Creek subdivision in New Castle has also had its share of trash bears, so much so that DOW was forced to kill three of them last year. The Four Mile and Three Mile areas are also places where humans and bears have had conflicts. Recently a bear broke into a home on Three Mile, and the homeowner killed it, Marzec said.Ideally, DOW would like to designate Midland Avenue up Four Mile Road to the Oak Meadows subdivision as an area where bear-proof containers would be required, she said.Bear-proof containers can be pricey. Local trash companies can provide various sizes from Dumpster to individual home containers. There are also a number of local companies that sell them. The containers are made of heavy-duty steel and have a special latch that requires reaching up under a covering to release it, a maneuver impossible for the paws of a bear.Marzec said the ordinance they hope the county adopts would work in progressive steps. The first step would require that trash be set out only on the day of pickup and only be outside between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. If a bear gets into someone’s garbage, that person is issued a warning. A second offense would require the person to purchase a bear-proof container.But containers would be required only in areas where a bear was proving to be a trash problem, she said.Similar ordinances are in place in Pitkin County and its towns.All three commissioners were supportive of the idea but said their attorneys would have to research the mechanism of the ordinance further before it can be enacted. Specifically, they would have to delineate what areas would be covered under the ordinance.The trash-bear issue could be covered either as an ordinance or through the county’s land-use regulations.The county sheriff and his deputies would enforce an ordinance, if that is what is established.”We will do whatever we can to help DOW,” said Sheriff Lou Vallario. With such a law on the books, “its not about enforcement” as much as “it’s about compliance and education.””I think at some point an individual who lives in bear country has to take responsibility,” said Commissioner Trési Houpt, who lives off Four Mile Road. She said the homeowners in her subdivision agreed to purchase bear-proof containers. “It made a huge difference” in problems with bears.
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