City set to bare ‘teeth’ over trash-bear rules |

City set to bare ‘teeth’ over trash-bear rules

Game warden Dan Cacho examines a bear tranquilized in late August in downtown Glenwood Springs. Tags are visible in its ear from previous encounters with people.
Peggy Dial / Contributed photo |

Glenwood Springs residents and property owners whose improperly stored trash gets raided by bears or other animals could face an initial fine of $50 and up to $500 for a second offense, under new rules being considered by the city.

Dan Cacho, area game warden for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson recently presented City Council with some recommended changes to the city’s trash ordinance.

Existing rules require that residential and commercial trash be kept in either an enclosed area, such as a garage or shed, or in certified bear/wildlife resistant container if its left outside prior to trash collection day.

Non-secure trash cans are to be put out for pick-up no earlier than 6 a.m. on trash day, and must be brought back in by 8 p.m.

After a particularly troublesome year for bears getting into unsecured trash and other bear-human conflicts throughout Glenwood Springs, City Council decided it’s time to add some more teeth on the enforcement end.

In addition to receiving a written warning via certified letter advising of the rules, violators could also face a $50 fine on first offense, according to draft revisions to the ordinance that will come before council soon.

A second offense could warrant of fine of between $100 and $500, depending on the circumstances. If a violator can provide proof that they have purchased a certified bear-resistant trash container, the fine could be waived.

A third offense would warrant a fine and summons to appear in court, under the proposed changes.

Currently, police cannot issue a citation or fine until after a certified letter is sent to the resident or property owner advising them of the trash ordinance rules.

“The option of issuing a summons to property managers and owners is critical to success,” Chief Wilson said in a memo to council members. “Our goal will remain education, but the ability to provide a little ‘nudge’ earlier in the process should be beneficial.”

Another proposed change in the ordinance would extend the rules to include all animals, not just wildlife, as unsecured trash can be just as tempting for domestic dogs and cats.

Cacho suggested that the city consider hiring a second code enforcement officer to be on the lookout for trash violations and to issue citations. Wilson indicated he would rather use the city’s limited personnel resources on the patrol side, noting that any police officer can issue a citation or court summons.

If adopted by council, the ordinance changes should take effect without a phase-in education period, Wilson said, as people should be well aware of bear issue by now. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be discretion and “situational awareness” when it comes to enforcement, he said.

Mayor Leo McKinney agreed the proposed changes are necessary.

“If people don’t understand the importance of taking care of their garbage, they’re trying not to pay attention,” McKinney said. “You can’t live up here and not know about these things.”

Other suggestions offered by Cacho and Wilson included:

• Donating any fines levied to the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife facility in Silt, to help take care of bears and other wildlife that are sent there for rehabilitation.

• Consider more sweeping changes to the city’s trash ordinances, possibly requiring that set trash pick-up days be established by zone in different neighborhoods.

• Working with other area towns and trash haulers to require bear-resistant containers for all customers.

• Establishing centralized trash collection containments in some neighborhoods and for multiple businesses.

“Zoning trash pick-up would be a huge help, as wildlife will be less able to feed in the same areas of town on multiple days per week,” Wilson wrote in his memo. “It should serve to disrupt their ability to ‘stake out’ areas and be such consistent problems.”

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