Bear ordinance approved

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With no discussion, the Steamboat Springs City Council approved a stricter bear ordinance that would require residents to purchase wildlife-proof containers if they have repeated problems with wildlife.

After months of debate and discussion, the council unanimously approved the bear ordinance at its Tuesday meeting with no questions or comments.

The first reading of the ordinance was held Jan. 5, and council members requested that a few changes be made. Tuesday's ordinance required residents to lock trash in a wildlife-proof container if it was left out before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on trash collection day.

The previously existing ordinance called for wildlife-resistant containers only for those who leave trash out before 6 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

The new ordinance also allows for a City Manager Rule, which would allow the city manager to require residents to purchase a wildlife-proof container if they had more than one reported incident of wildlife in their trash in a three-month period.

Notice of the violation would be posted at the property and mailed to the property owner.

The council-approved ordinance also stated that construction Dumpsters used exclusively for construction waste and not food waste would not need a locking mechanism to keep wildlife out.

The council also required all city trash cans and Dumpsters to comply with the ordinance, which will cost the city about $1,600 to retrofit the cans.

City Manager Wendy DuBord has said officials plan to educate the public about the new bear ordinance in the winter and then begin enforcement in the spring and summer, when bears become a problem.

Throughout the fall, the council had repeated discussions about increasing wildlife complaints in 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 would only 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 -- regardless of where they live in the city and when they leave their trash out -- to use wildlife-proof trash containers.

The ordinance had the potential of hitting the pocketbook of almost anyone who pays for trash removal in the city limits. The council asked for a less severe ordinance.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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