Bear issues again come to light | SteamboatToday.com

Bear issues again come to light

Council to consider revisions to city's trash ordinance

A black bear jumps out of a trash bin in 2011 at the Selbe Apartments on Rollingstone Drive. As bears become more active around town, wildlife officials are stressing the ways residents can help keep them out of trouble.

— With bears again on the prowl and getting into garbage, local officials will once more be asking new city council members if they want a more strict trash ordinance.

Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen said that, on May 10, council members will be shown potential revisions to the trash ordinance. One of the options would require residents to purchase bear-resistant trash cans.

On Dec. 16, the previous city council voted, 6-1, to approve the first reading of an ordinance that would require residents to buy the beefy trash cans in an effort to curb Steamboat’s nuisance black bear problem. Citing the high cost of the trash cans to consumers, the council ultimately denied the second reading of the ordinance, 6-1.

Despite increased education and enforcement of current trash rules, Christensen said there are still issues council members should consider.

"We're going to fill them in on what is working and what's not working," Christensen said.

He said other communities, such as Durango, have had success with requiring bear-resistant trash cans.

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"They've noticed a huge difference in the number of bears getting into trash," Christensen said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said requiring bear-resistant trash cans would help.

"It's one of the ultimate solutions," Haskins said.

But he added there are still other problems, especially with commercial dumpsters which bears will repeatedly attack.

There is also the issue of how residents will afford the bear-resistant trash cans, which can cost more than $200.

Haskins said residents in mobile home parks could be hit especially hard, and they are exploring a program that would lend people money for the trash containers that could be repayed over time.

So far this spring, Steamboat police have responded to three calls related to bears. Two of the calls were on Pine Street, while the third was on Blue Sage Drive, an area notorious for nuisance bears. That bear was seen tearing through trash.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland