Vail council holds off on new bear law
VAIL – Vail Town Councilman Greg Moffet said he knows it would be a hardship for some people to buy a special “wildlife-resistant” trash cans. Still, he said, the cans should be mandatory for town residents.”(The proposal) will more effectively modify animal behavior,” Moffet said.Two other councilmen shared Moffet’s sentiment, but that wasn’t enough to pass the law. After a tie vote, the issue was put off until next month’s meeting.Officials have captured four bears, later euthanizing two of them, in Vail this year. Those incidents have brought the issue of bear-human contact to the forefront in town. Earlier this summer, the council decided to stop giving warnings to violators of the town’s trash rules, instead going straight to assessing fines or jail time.On Tuesday, the council considered whether it should pass a strict law requiring everyone in town to get wildlife-resistant trash cans. That law would also require people who don’t take their trash cans inside during the week to get “wildlife-proof” metal cans.A less strict alternative would only require wildlife-resistant cans for people who don’t bring their trash cans inside during the week.Wildlife-resistant trash cans are plastic with a lid and a latch. They cost $150 from Vail Honeywagon.Wildlife-proof cans are metal and cost as much as $500.Human-bear encounters have decreased each year since the town implemented its “dawn to dusk” rule, which says residents can only leave their trash out on pickup day.In 2002, the year the town passed the law, there were over 300 bear-human encounters, Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said. That number decreased to 268 in 2003, 212 in 2004, 141 in 2005 and 66 so far this year, he said.Overreaching?Sally Jackle, a Vail resident, asked the council to approve the more-strict version.”I really urge you to adopt the strongest ordinance possible,” she said.The extra cost is justified, she said.”It’s a more than reasonable cost to pay to live in harmony with the bears,” she said.Bill Andree of the Colorado Division of Wildlife also said he supported the stronger version.But West Vail resident Dick Cleveland said requiring everyone in town to get the special cans is going too far. “I think version No. 1 (the stricter version) is overreaching,” he said.He said the current town trash rules need to be enforced. He also suggested that violators of current rules be required to pay for special trash cans, and that people who are following the rules shouldn’t have to buy new trash cans.”That way, the people who cause the problem are paying for it,” he said.Council members Moffet, Kent Logan and Rod Slifer voted for the strict version, and Kim Newbury, Mark Gordon and Kevin Foley voted against it. Gordon said the council should have more information about the costs of the cans, implementation of the plan and impact on renters.The council will consider the proposals again on Sept. 5.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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