Steamboat police to increase enforcement of trash rules in face of nuisance bears | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat police to increase enforcement of trash rules in face of nuisance bears

This bear had no trouble helping himself to a snack from a bear-proof Dumpster earlier this month near 11th and Oak streets in downtown Steamboat Springs. Police say they plan to increase enforcement of trash rules.

— The black bear that fell from a tree Wednesday after being tranquilized is OK, and the Steamboat Springs Police Department said it's going be more aggressive in enforcing rules meant to keep bears out of trash cans and Dumpsters.

"I'm glad to hear that," was the reaction from Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.

Police Capt. Jerry Stabile said trash enforcement is being increased in response to an overall surge in nuisance bears. Residents and businesses can be given $100 tickets for breaking the city's laws regarding trash.

"Our guys are chasing around bears about every night," Sta­bile said.

He said issuing citations would not be done to generate revenue but to encourage residents to secure their trash cans. Stabile said the bears pose a risk to public safety and the trash poses a threat to the local bear population.

"A fed bear is a dead bear," Stabile said.

Haskins said some bears have become so used to humans that they no longer are scared of them.

"We're going to be pretty aggressive about getting these yearlings moved because they are going to be a problem in the future," Haskins said. "We don't want people from out of town thinking this is Yogi and Boo-Boo and start feeding them out of their hands."

The announcement about stepped up trash enforcement came a day after a yearling black bear was tranquilized in a tree along Pine Street in downtown Steamboat Springs. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters were called to help when the bear became wedged in the tree after falling asleep. The bear was nudged out of the tree and landed on a bush before falling onto a tarp, which helped break the bear's fall.

People across the country learned about Steamboat's unusual event as photos and video from the bear rescue were published and broadcast by dozens of media outlets.

For this bear, at least there is a happy ending. After spending the night at Steamboat's Division of Parks and Wildlife office, the bear was successfully relocated Thursday morning.

"It was fine," Haskins said, adding that they had to tranquilize the bear again so they could attach an identification tag to its ear.

But there are still other nuisance bears out there, Haskins said, and he is particularly concerned about the male yearlings, which now are on their own after being born in spring 2011.

Just hours after the Pine Street bear was tranquilized Wednesday, police officers were called about two bears eating trash out of Dumpsters a couple of blocks away.

"We are going to step up enforcement," Stabile said. "We are directing our guys while they are on patrol to be aware of noncompliant trash cans and deal with it appropriately."

According to the city's laws regarding trash containers, trash stored outside must be in bear-proof containers. That applies to Dumpsters, as well.

People who use a curbside trash pickup service with trash containers that are not bear-proof can place the containers outside only between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on pickup days.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com