Your trash may get you a ticket |

Your trash may get you a ticket

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Daily file photoVail police officer Craig Westering leaves a flier on a garbage can in East Vail in March. The town says it will be enforcing the law requiring residents to keep their trash from attracting bears.

VAIL ” Fresia Vergara never saw the bear ” or whatever it was ” that ravaged her trash can May 16, but she did get a ticket hours later.

That’s the first time police ever gave Vergara a ticket, she said.

“I abide the law,” said Vergara, 83-year-old Vail resident of 30 years. “I’ve never been in court and I have to go for this. I’m not trying to feed the bear.”

Vergara and three others got tickets the week following May 16, according to Vail police records.

Vail police are aggressively enforcing the town’s wildlife protection ordinance.

They’ve already warned residents with fliers and tags about the need to use

wildlife-resistant trash cans, Commander Susan Douglas said.

Residents had to buy the tougher trash cans by April 15.

Police will continue to ticket residents who leave their trash out between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.; those whose trash has been ravaged by bears, crows, magpies or other animals; and those who don’t have wildlife-resistant trash cans, Douglas said.

Police also will ticket residents for any behavior that attracts bears ” from failing to clean an outdoor grill after barbecuing to owning a bird feeder, she said.

“Do they have to see the bear? No,” Douglas said about police.

Residents who get tickets must go to court, where fines range from nothing to $999, Douglas said.

The town required the new cans after several bears broke into homes last year. One bear attacked a 72-year-old woman in her East Vail home.

“What you don’t want is a bear on the back of your porch, thinking that porch is his porch,” said Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Hampton hopes that people will change their behavior first, because bears are harder to change, he said. If a bear comes to town twice, the Division of Wildlife kills it, he said.

If the bear is aggressive the first time, it is killed, he said.

“Nobody wants to see these bears needlessly killed because somebody left their trash out,” Hampton said.

Vergara’s ticket was for “intentional or unintentional feeding” of wildlife, according to police records.

Vergara has never fed wildlife, she said.

She forgot to latch her trash can because of her old age and she won’t do it again, she said.

“I don’t drive, I’m old, I have to be worrying about this for two months and I just want to get it over with,” Vergara said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

View Vail’s wildlife ordinance at:

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