Hungry bears bring trash fines to Durango residents

Meg Hilling
September 06, 2017 08:14 PM

DURANGO, Colo. -- Bears feasting on strewn trash on lawns and in garbage cans have prompted the Durango City Council to take action with an emergency ordinance. Homeowners there will now be hit with fines if they don't secure trash cans.


"All of this will help prevent that, you know, trash clean-up that everybody despises in the morning," Durango Code Enforcement Officer Steve Barkley said.

A clean-up that has become far too common in Durango in recent months, the city has responded to hundreds of such calls.

"This year we've had approximately 530-bear related calls within the city," Barkley said.

With more bears dumpster-diving for meals, the City of Durango is putting the pressure on residents' wallets to try to stop these takeout trips.

"The new ordinance for the next 60 days will require us to issue a $100 fine for first time violations for scattering of trash," Barkley said. "And if that scattering of trash occurred on a day that was not scheduled for collecting, that'll be an additional fine of $100."

Residents are being asked to use bear-resistant trash cans for an extra $4 a month. Many people like the idea of the crackdown.

"I think it'll help keep the community a lot cleaner and also protect all the people that live around here, along with the bears," Durango resident Christopher Davis said.

But not all residents agree with the first-time fine.

"It seems a little harsh to fine people on the first offense," Durango resident Kristin Burnett said. "I mean, even I have a bear-proof can and even I've had times I've forgotten to lock it, and you know, you wake up and there is garbage everywhere."

According to city officials, residents aren't the only ones that need to make sure they secure their trash when they bring it outside. Local businesses need to be doing the same.

"Commercial accounts fall into a little bit different category, but we are still working with them to upgrade those cans," Barkley said.

Officials say the new emergency ordinance is simply about keeping the city clean. They say they want to keep trash inside the cans and to keep those bears out.


Meg Hilling

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