Eagle County serious about bears | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County serious about bears

Annie AddisonSpecial to The Aspen Times

Bears are no longer strictly an Aspen issue, and Eagle County is suggesting residents bear the brunt of responsibility for not feeding bruins trash. After recent incidents, Eagle commissioners are developing an ordinance that could include fines for not properly securing trash, which attracts the hungry bears. They met Tuesday to discuss the issue.The idea of imposing fines is a popular one, said Commissioner Peter Runyon.”We asked the Division of Wildlife directly that if such an ordinance was in effect last year, what would that mean to them,” Runyon said. “They said it would mean it was two bears they wouldn’t have had to kill in Eagle/Vail.”Three bears have already been spotted this year in the Blue Lake subdivision in Eagle County. A resident reported a bear cub eating trash while its mother and another cub were behind a house two weeks ago.The bear ordinance would address a means to get people to be more responsible in bear country, Runyon said. “Not to punish, but put a stick in there.”One idea is a first-time warning for feeding bears. The second time, a fine would be assessed. A third offense would mean a $1,000 fine.”We’re still working on final verbiage on how to structure that,” Runyon said. He said the county still needs to work more with the DOW and homeowners associations.”We’re unsure of time frame, but we are moving forward,” Runyon said. “We need to protect our wildlife; it’s one of our assets. It’s too bad we’re going to have to do this. I think most people will get it, particularly after a first warning. Usually only obstructionists need to be dealt with. It’s easier to buy a bear-proof container and avoid a fee.”Trash removal companies such as Waste Management, which picks up trash in Blue Lake, do not provide bear-proof canisters. However, customers can rent a “bear-resistant” plastic trash container with two cable locks for $37 a month.Metal bear-proof trash containers are hard to find in the Carbondale/Glenwood Springs area. BMC West does not carry bear-proof canisters in the Glenwood Springs store but does have them in its Aspen store. The bear-proof trash lockers made of steel, sort of like job boxes in pickup trucks except larger, cost $749. The most popular bear-proof canisters sold at BMC West in Aspen are steel trash cans with wheels for $337.50 and are approved by Pitkin County, which has its fair share of bears.True Value sells plastic bear-proof trash canisters with a metal cable and locks around them; the 65-gallon cans are $205, and 95-gallon cans are $220 and are also approved by Pitkin County.”The reality is, wildlife is one of our economic engines, it’s why people come here,” Runyon said. “We need to protect our wildlife.”