Potential city ordinance targets sloppy trash owners
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The city may toughen ordinances to deal with sloppy trash owners creating conflicts with bears and neighbors.
That sounds good to Holly Glasier, an area resident who’s been following local bear issues. Glasier was disturbed to hear last summer that the Division of Wildlife put down a bear that people at the Ami’s Acres campground reportedly fed and petted.
Glasier can’t believe people would feed or pet a bear, especially with children running around.
“They’re just damn lucky they didn’t get eaten,” she said.
Last year, people leaving trash around outside caused an overwhelming number of problems with bears and led to numerous complaints between neighboring property owners, said Police Chief Terry Wilson, who requested the changes.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” he said. “We had a lot of issues with garbage in town so we were looking for some ways to kind of strengthen our ability to deal with those things more quickly and more directly.”
If approved, police could issue a summons with fines of up to $500 on the second warning instead of the third. Getting to the third warning could drag out and take about half of the bear season, Wilson said.
The ordinance would also allow police to hold more people accountable, including renters and property managers instead of just owners. As more single-family residences have been converted to multi-family residences, trash problems have multiplied and it’s sometimes been harder to find property owners, Wilson said.
“It gives us a better ability to hold someone accountable,” he said. “The goal here isn’t to generate revenue or make money, the goal is to quit creating the conditions that leaving garbage around creates.”
The DOW said a $68 penalty for feeding wildlife probably wouldn’t stand up in court in the Ami’s Acres case last year, and the agency is better served when municipal and county ordinances minimize bear problems by forcing people to take care of trash. The agency also expressed frustration with homeowners and businesses in the Glenwood area failing to secure trash from bears.
DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said the DOW supports Glenwood’s effort to address the issue. He said incidents like the one at Ami’s Acres last year highlight what could be improved. As a wildlife management agency, the DOW can continue to haze bears, relocate them or kill them.
But Hampton added, “We have no control over what creates the conflict. The bear doesn’t start out breaking into houses, it starts by getting lured in by trash.”
He said Glenwood Springs has seen an increase in bear-related problems over the past three or four years caused by continued building development. He predicts Garfield County will start seeing more bear conflicts as communities like Rifle, Silt and Parachute continue to grow in part due to the oil and gas boom.
The Glenwood Springs City Council may approve the first reading of the tougher trash ordinances tonight.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
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