Aspen passes new wildlife harassment ordinance, starting at $250 up to $999
Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance that includes a new fine structure for people who are caught harassing wildlife.
The first offense is $250, the second is $500 and the third is $999, along with an appearance in municipal court. Those fines match what it costs when property owners and businesses fail to secure trash properly.
The fines were introduced by the Aspen Police Department after an incident last fall when a bear and her cubs were in a tree surrounded for days by onlookers. When they came down, a woman and her child looking to get a photo chased them. It caused the mother and cubs to be separated, and therefore stressed.
Council earlier this month asked that the APD develop public outreach efforts in unison with the ordinance. They include:
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• “Bears are Awake” public service announcements, which explain that it is illegal to harass wildlife in Colorado.
• City of Aspen bear brochure. This information is going to be distributed to hotels and property management companies by community resource officers and the Parking Department, which also explains that it’s illegal to harass wildlife.
• Bear magnets. The APD also has created a refrigerator magnet that will be distributed to property management companies. This magnet lists simple steps for protecting bears.
• Bear business cards. This brochure is going to be the size of a business card and will be the information the APD passes out on scene when there is a large congregation of spectators. This encourages people to be part of the solution and discourage people from becoming a part of the problem. It also explains that harassment of wildlife is illegal.
• Aspen bears biking map is going to be included in the Maroon Bells map. This also discusses harassment of wildlife.
• Advertisements will run in the local newspapers regarding the “Bear Aware” campaign, as well as ones that are specifically pertaining to the harassment of wildlife ordinance.
• The APD is developing signs to use on perimeters of bear incidents that offer warnings about the ordinance.
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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.