Editorial: Bear compliance starts at the top
It’s always troubling to see authorities skirt the very laws they enforce, the latest example being the city of Aspen’s slow response to bear-proofing its trash cans.
Since June 2010, the city has required residents to use bear-resistant containers, with a $250 fine for a first offense of non-compliance, and as much as a $500 penalty for a second transgression.
Yet the city, by its own admission, says that only about two-thirds of its trash cans comply with its own rules on bear proofing. That equates to about 30 trash cans in the downtown core that aren’t up to snuff. Some 100 of the cans the city has in public places and parks have a metal cover over a latch that must be triggered to open the lid, making them compliant with city ordinances.
While the city has made significant strides over the years to address the influx of bears in the summertime — their visits often correlate with their lack of food sources in the high country, along with the lack of awareness and compliance in Aspen — this is simply not good enough.
Setting an example begins at the top, and the city is coming up short in being a model for residents and guests to follow. To its credit, the city has designs to retrofit the 30 non-compliant cans with new lids to bring them into compliance.
But in the meantime, the problem festers. Part of the problem, according to a city official, is that the manufacturer has been too slow delivering the improved lids. Even so, Kevin Wright, district wildlife manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, questions whether those lids will actually be effective enough to ward off a hungry bear.
This has gone on long enough. Aspen has a bear problem, and there will always be the potential for it to get worse if the city doesn’t comply with its own laws.
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