Slideshow: Bear outsmarts a trash bin at a residence near downtown Aspen |

Slideshow: Bear outsmarts a trash bin at a residence near downtown Aspen

Staff report

trash container fines

Aspen has wildlife protection ordinances in place to protect people and bears. Failure to comply with ordinances meant to keep trash inaccessible to animals results in the following fines:

• First offense: $250

• Second offense: $500

• Third offense: $999 plus a mandatory court appearance

More information about living with bears, including trash ordinances and other safety tips, can be found at

A bear tore into the trash bin outside a home on Waters Avenue, near the intersection with South West End Street near downtown Aspen, Wednesday around 6 a.m.

Aspen resident Marc Mandelbaum snapped these photos and said he was upset to see a homeowner’s dumpster so easily accessible for the bear, although he called it a cool display of the animal’s power and brains.

“These people need to secure their trash better,” he said of the homeowners. “Every day the bear tries to get in, and can. (This is) not a bear-proof enclosure.”

Aspen Police Assistant Chief Bill Linn said there have been 36 bear calls so far this season, six more than the 30 calls reported this time last year.

“It’s not been anything particularly out of the ordinary,” he said.

The police department is encouraging residents to use common sense and “do the right thing,” he said.

“The bears are here,” he said. “If you’re not securing the trash, you may have problems with bears — and you may end up talking to us.”

The police department has issued two citations so far this year. Typically, Linn said if a resident has already been warned, a ticket is the next likely step.

“If we reasonably believe you didn’t know or it was an accident, you’ll probably get a warning,” he said. “We try to be rational about it.”

While the bear calls have started, bear sightings haven’t ramped up yet for the summer season. Linn said that shouldn’t prevent people from thinking about the bears.

“Just because people aren’t seeing bears all over the place right now doesn’t mean they can neglect their responsibilities to take care of their trash,” he said. “We don’t want to train the bears to come back to our own dumpster and eat our trash. No one wants to be responsible for having a bear put down.”