Garfield commissioners’ decision too much to bear
September 7, 2006
On Tuesday, the Garfield County commissioners voted 2-1 against adopting an ordinance that would have required people and businesses living in bear habitat to use bear-proof garbage containers.County commissioners Larry McCown and John Martin rejected pleas from the Colorado Division of Wildlife to require residents of West Glenwood and other neighborhoods that back up to national forest to use bear-proof garbage containers.Any bear caught rummaging through garbage bins, garages or inside a home more than once is killed by DOW agents. As the popular saying goes: A fed bear is a dead bear. Unsecured garbage is an easy target for bears, and an invitation for them to enter homes and come into contact with people and their pets. Heavy-duty bear-proof trash cans make people feel safer and save bears’ lives. Spending a few hundred dollars on a garbage can is a lot less expensive than repairing a kitchen or refurbishing a living room that’s been ripped apart by a hungry bruin. Bear-proof containers also reduce the amount of tax dollars that the DOW must spend catching, relocating and killing bears. An assistant county attorney told the commissioners Tuesday that they shouldn’t adopt the bear-proofing ordinance because the county lacks an accompanying nuisance ordinance. Why can’t they pass both?McCown objected to the ordinance because he had trouble defining what constitutes garbage. “Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure,” McCown declared at the meeting. Rotten lettuce and moldy fruit may indeed be someone’s treasure, but we’re willing to bet that someone is ursine.Martin said people have to take responsibility for themselves. But the fact is that many people don’t know how to behave responsibly when it comes to wildlife. Many think they are helping bears by feeding them, when really they are hurting them. How are the commissioners going to explain their vote to someone whose house has been ravaged, whose pet has been killed, whose child has been … ?Garfield County should reconsider. A well-crafted bear ordinance is the fiscally prudent and environmentally sound thing to do.