In Pitkin County, Colo., trash is now safe from
Last month, a "bear ordinance"
went into effect in all the county’s rural areas. The law,
which had been in the works for more than two years, says that
every trash can that hits the curb in unincorporated Pitkin County
must be "wildlife-proof." Violators could face a $1,000 fine.
The county’s definition of wildlife
includes black bears, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes,
bobcats, foxes, cats and dogs. But the most infamous trashcan
tippers are black bears. Each year, Division of Wildlife officials
tag bears notorious for dumpster diving. Repeat offenders may be
Kevin Wright, Aspen district ranger
for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said the tight regulations
should greatly decrease how much garbage a bear can expect to get
its paws on.
"We really like the part of this
ordinance that says that if a bear-proofing method fails, it needs
to be fixed or replaced immediately," he said. "Broken cans will
only keep the bears in the area."
collection agencies will be responsible for bear-proofing
commercial containers, but Tom Hockins from VIP Trash Removal in
Glenwood Springs worries that he won’t be able to monitor and
repair every dumpster on his largely rural route.
"These people come in from California and
they’re gone tomorrow — they don’t care," he
says. "I can’t fix all of these lids just because some nerd
pried it open to dump their trash in."
Henry Fox, general manager for Browning Ferris Industries Waste
Systems, says his company aims to bear-proof all its 700 commercial
containers in Pitkin County.
The Pitkin County
cities of Aspen and Snowmass have had bear-proofing laws for
several years, and Redstone resident Ron Sorter says it
shouldn’t be tough to get the word out to the rest of the
"In a small village like ours,
it’s easier because everybody knows everybody," he says.
"Everyone who lives up in the mountains should know that the best
thing for bears to do is to stay where it is safer for them."