Trash laws aim to protect Avon wildlife | VailDaily.com

Trash laws aim to protect Avon wildlife

Veronica Whitney

Last month, when he responded to a call for help in Wildwood, Avon police Officer Gordon Chicoine found two bears in the trash container of a townhome complex.”We shot a pepper-ball round and they ran,” said Chicoine, adding he’s been trying since the incident to educate people about the importance of storing trash inside so it doesn’t attract wild animals. “It’s more of a people problem than a bear problem, because the people leave the trash out,” Chicoine said.In a move intended to keep wild animals and residents apart, the Avon Town Council will review Tuesday a new law that would punish residents for leaving out garbage or other food sources that lure bears and other wild animals into potentially dangerous proximity with humans. “We all know they are here because they are looking for food,” Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks said. “None of us wants to kill the bears because they are in town. The best way to do it is to remove the temptation.”Avon police Chief Jeff Layman said Avon residents have been worried about what they see as an increase in the number of bear sightings within the town this summer. As of July 7, the department had responded to 26 calls about bears, more than twice as many in 2003 and 2002, but far fewer than 2001, Layman said.The Town Council started considering the new ordinance after speaking with Colorado Division of Wildlife officer Bill Andree, who said the most effective way to reduce the number of bears in residential neighborhoods is to establish guidelines for putting trash outside.

Under the new ordinance, residents and business owners who don’t have a wildlife-resistant trash container – a fully-enclosed metal or plastic container with a metal or plastic lid with a latching mechanism – would be restricted to only putting out their garbage on the day it’s picked up.”Even with the knowledge that you shouldn’t put your trash out until the morning on trash day, many homeowners still put it out the night before,” Layman said. “This single action is what attracts most of the bears into your neighborhoods.” One option for residents who can’t resist putting their trash out the night before is to buy bear-resistant trash containers. But some residents balk at this suggestion because of the cost -about $300, Andree said. “That price is cheap compared to the damage a bear can do to your house if it’s trying to get inside,” Andree said.Two years ago, Vail police were getting about five calls a day from people complaining about bears looking for trash. Since the town of Vail passed a similar garbage law, problems with bears have gone down 80 percent, Vail police Sgt. Kurt Mulson said .”The trash was the attraction to the bears,” Mulson said. “We used to get five calls a day, now we get one or two a week.”If it passes in Avon, the new ordinance could subject offenders to warnings and fines of up to $1,000.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com. Paw enforcementAvon is proposing a law that would punish residents who leave out trash that attracts wildlife, particularly bears. Here are its provisions: • All residential trash containers must either be wildlife resistant or wildlife proof, or be kept within a home, garage, shed or other enclosed structure.• Residents can only put non-bear-proof garbage cans on their curbs on the day trash is picked up, between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.• Bear-proof containers may be placed curbside after 6 a.m. of the day before.• All construction sites must have a designated garbage can for food. The garbage can must be wildlife-proof or emptied at the end of each day.

• Between April 15 and Nov. 15, all bird feeders must be suspended on a cable or other device so they are inaccessible to bears. The area below the feeders must be kept free from the accumulation of seed debris. The penalties• First violation: Warning, resident receives information about proper garbage storage. • Second violation: Formal complaint filed.• Offenders who violate the ordinance more than two times within a year or continue to fail in achieving timely compliance with a previous notice will be subject to a fine of $100 to $1,000, depending on the number of violations within the previous 12 months.Becoming law• The Avon Town Council is scheduled to hold its first vote on the law at a public meeting at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday.