Aspen mandates wildlife-resistant garbage cans |

Aspen mandates wildlife-resistant garbage cans

ASPEN – It’s official: Every property owner in Aspen will be required to have a wildlife-resistant garbage can, and each receptacle will be numbered so it can be traced back to its owner.

The Aspen City Council Monday unanimously approved changes to the current law, which has proven ineffective in a few areas, officials said.

One of the law’s weak spots was that it allowed people to place unsecured trash cans outside of their homes on the day of pick up, which attracted bears in search of easily accessible food.

Those individuals using standard garbage cans will have to purchase wildlife-resistant containers, which cost upward of $200. The city isn’t requiring the fully enclosed metal containers but rather a poly cart with a latching mechanism.

Still, some residents told the council they don’t appreciate the additional cost, especially since they have been able to fend off hungry bears by using ammonia in their cans and having them out for a short period of time on pick-up day.

Mayor Mick Ireland said he has received several e-mails from residents complaining about the high price of purchasing wildlife-resistant containers.

The cans cost between $100 and $300, according Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor.

After Ireland’s suggestion, the council agreed to direct city officials to find a way to buy the containers in bulk and then offer them at a discounted price.

Trash haulers are able to sell the containers at $143 a piece if they buy 20 or more, according to officials.

“Let’s buy 200 or 500 of these suckers,” and get some cost control on them, said Ireland. “$143 is real money, or at least it is for me.”

Councilman Torre said he has received many comments from members of the public who are concerned about the price of wildlife-resistant containers. He said he wasn’t sure about the effectiveness of the proposed ordinance.

In the end, however, he voted for it.

The law goes into effect June 1. Another change limits the times a wildlife-resistant container can be outside to between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., thus limiting bears’ access to human food sources.

While the council approved stringent rules for wildlife-resistant containers in 2008, last year’s busy and taxing bear season presented some flaws in the code.

Last summer, the police department made 600 contacts with people who had run-ins with bears on their property as a result of human food sources being readily available. Twenty were issued tickets for noncompliance.

The present code also requires that refuse containers have the street address and unit number permanently affixed to the garbage can with digits no smaller than 2 inches in height. It’s the responsibility of the department to maintain a database of garbage cans, which the police department characterizes as “nearly impossible.”

An amendment to the code makes it the responsibility of trash haulers to identify each container and the client who is responsible for it.

Trash haulers who operate within city limits have been consulted on the proposed amendment and are on board with it, police said.

In the past, construction sites were required to have a designated container for refuse that is edible to wildlife; the container can be either wildlife resistant or emptied at the end of the workday and then secured inside a trailer or building.

But a problem still exists at construction sites where human food waste is being placed into roll-off Dumpsters, attracting bears.

The amendment now requires construction sites to have wildlife-resistant containers in conjunction with on-site roll-off Dumpsters.

People who are found out of compliance after being warned face a $250 fine for the first offense; the second offense is $500; and the third offense is $999 with a mandatory court appearance.

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