Aspen bear troubles lead to fines
September 4, 2009
ASPEN – The sight of overflowing, knocked-over trash bins is starting to come at a price for some Aspen businesses and residents.
That’s what happened to the owners of the Buckhorn Arms building, which houses Johnny McGuire’s Deli and Domino’s Pizza.
On the morning of Aug. 4, Aspen Police Department wildlife enforcement officer Dan Glidden spotted a trash bin that had been knocked over by a bear. The bin was located in the alley behind the Buckhorn building, and Glidden ticketed the owners.
Terrance McGuire, a co-owner of the building and the deli, appeared in Aspen Municipal Court Wednesday. McGuire said he thought he had been cited for a recycling container infraction, but it turned out it was because the trash bin was not secured, Glidden told Judge Brooke Peterson.
Glidden said the business had already been warned on July 2, “when both dumpsters were overfilled … I said, ‘This is not acceptable.'”
McGuire paid the $250 fine for violating the city ordinance that mandates wildlife containers be secured.
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But another issue regarding containers for recyclables – and how city law pertains to them – arose in court. Recyclable carts are required to be kept inside until the day of pick-up. But the recyclable carts are not required to be secured, unlike trash containers.
That, noted Peterson, seems to defeat the purpose of keeping away bears, which have been a persistent problem in Aspen for most of the summer, as they continue to scrounge for food.
“We think [recyclables] should be kept in wildlife-resistant containers,” said James True, city prosecutor.
True added that the city believes “recycling is within the definition of refuse and should be kept in a secure container.”
There was discussion of modifying the wildlife ordinance requiring recyclables to be placed in steel, resistant containers.
Said McGuire: “We’re setting a pretty big precedence around town if we’re going to change the recycling containers to steel.”
True said he hopes to modify the ordinance within the next month or so.
Buckhorn Arms is the fourth Aspen business or residence to pay a $250 fine this year for violating the wildlife ordinance as it pertains to trash bins. Six other tickets are pending, according to court records.
Also this year, a combined 10 businesses and residences have been issued warnings for not keeping their trash bins secured. The standard procedure is that violators are warned once before getting ticketed.