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Bears may lose another food source

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Greg Honan just bought a $225 wildlife-resistant trash can and pretty soon, his neighbors may have to buy one, too.

Depending on where they live in unincorporated Eagle County, residents must get a wildlife-resistant trash container sometime between Aug. 1 and April 1, says a new law.

Trash cans must have sturdy lids with a latch to prevent wildlife such as bears, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, magpies, crows, foxes and others from getting into it.



Residents can buy the containers from their trash service, said Alex Potente, assistant attorney for Eagle County.

At first, the county won’t strictly enforce the ordinance unless residents repeatedly violate it, Potente said.



“For first-time offenders, if they haven’t switched over the first date, we won’t give them a fine,” he said.

In Honan’s case, bears began rummaging through trash in his Eagle-Vail neighborhood as soon as it got warm. It was a “disaster,” he said.

“We’re willing to pay a little extra,” so that doesn’t happen, said Honan, of Eagle-Vail.



Dan Bailey, of Singletree, said he will buy a wildlife-resistant trash can even though the area doesn’t have problems with bears.

“Gosh, they’ve shot so many (bears) in the past few years,” said Bailey, a 15-year resident of the valley.

It’s much easier for a bear to get a meal from a trash can than in the wild, so bears become dependent on garbage, said Tyler Baskfield, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

In Colorado, bears get two strikes. If they damage property or show no fear of humans, they are tranquilized and relocated, Baskfield said.

If they come back again or are aggressive toward people the first time, they are killed, he said.

Unlike Vail’s tough ordinance requiring wildlife-proof sheds, the county will allow stores, restaurants, condo complexes and apartment buildings to have wildlife-resistant trash containers, the ordinance says.

But like Vail’s ordinance, the county also will allow birdfeeders, but between April 15 and Nov. 15, they must be placed high enough that bears can’t reach them, the ordinance says.

Brandon Woodhall, of Eagle-Vail, “works too many hours and doesn’t make a lot of money” as a cook, but would still buy the can, he said.

“I would be more than happy if it would keep bears out so we don’t have all the problems and have to shoot them all the time,” Woodhall said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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