Aspen judge boosts bear-law fines |

Aspen judge boosts bear-law fines

ASPEN ” Aspen’s municipal court judge on Wednesday raised the city’s standard fines for wildlife protection ordinance violations ” on the same day Pitkin County commissioners adopted an emergency ordinance jacking up fines for similar violations in unincorporated parts of the county.

Improperly secured garbage, among other acts, can trigger a citation to city residents and businesses under the wildlife ordinance.

Judge Brooke Peterson boosted fines to $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second offense in the city limits. In the event of a third offense, a court appearance is mandatory and a fine of up to $1,000 is possible. Previously, Aspen residents faced fines of $50 for a first offense and $250 for a second violation under the city’s wildlife ordinance, which mandates bear-proof garbage containers and other measures to discourage black bears from foraging for food in town.

Peterson takes the bench each Wednesday morning in the basement of Aspen City Hall to pass judgment in cases involving municipal violations.

In Pitkin County, the new law imposes a $350 fine for the first violation, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third. Businesses face a $750 fine for a second violation.

So far this season, seven bears have been euthanized in the Aspen area, including bruins that have broken into homes in search of food.

Aspen is the county seat of Pitkin County.

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