City gearing up for bears

Steamboat Springs officials preparing to enforce new ordinance

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The city of Steamboat Springs is gearing up to enforce its new bear ordinance after bear sightings already have been reported.

In January, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring residents who put their trash out before 6 a.m. on trash day and leave it out after 8 p.m. to use a wildlife-proof container, Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said.

"It is that time of year again when bears and wildlife are active," DuBord said.

The ordinance will start to be enforced, and violators will start to be ticketed May 1. The city's enforcement officers already have handed out warnings and brochures about the new ordinance to those who have not complied.

DuBord said that wildlife-proof trash cans can be rented through Waste Management, purchased at local hardware stores or online and that people could make their own.

For a one-time fee of $26, Waste Management will set up a wildlife-proof trash container and then service it for an additional monthly cost. For those already using a 96-pound trash can, it would be an extra $5 a month within the city limits, and for those using a smaller trash can, it would be an extra $10 a month.

Waste Management customer service representative Bridget Nielsen said she has received dozens of phone calls this spring about purchasing wildlife-proof containers, and there are different options for different situations.

Waste Management will re--place at no cost the trash cans they provide if they get damaged, she said.

Residents also can purchase the equipment to make an existing trash can a wildlife-proof container and not have to pay the additional monthly costs.

A local hardware store also is selling wildlife-proof containers. At Ace at the Curve, a wildlife-proof 95-gallon trash can costs about $197.50, and a 64-gallon trash can costs about $179.50.

The wildlife-proof containers cost about $100 more than their regular counterparts.

Jim Warren at Ace at the Curve said the trash cans have angled iron reinforcement on the sides and back. The trash cans also have two clip locks on the top. The lid also is reinforced with metal. They all have wheels.

During the city's discussion about a bear ordinance this winter, city staff said it would be possible for the municipal court judge to waive a $100 fine if the offender, on the second offense, agreed to purchase a wildlife-proof trash can.

The new ordinance also provides for a "city manager rule," which would allow the city manager to require a resident to purchase a wildlife-proof container if he or she had more than one reported incident of wildlife in the trash in a three-month period. The manager's rule even would apply to those not in violation of the ordinance.

The council-approved ordinance also stated that construction Dumpsters used exclusively for construction waste, with no food waste, would not need a locking mechanism to keep wildlife out.

Throughout the fall, the council had repeated discussions about the increasing numbers of bear and other wildlife complaints within city limits and the need to strengthen its ordinance.

One of the major problems, Colorado Division of Wildlife officials said, was animals getting into residents' trash. They warned it only would worsen if trash was not stored more securely.

At a Nov. 16 meeting, the council turned down the first reading of an ordinance that would have required all residents to use wildlife-proof trash containers, regardless of where they live in the city and when they leave their trash out.

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