Bear trash ordinance starts March 1

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Human trash is killing bears, according to wildlife experts and a new Colorado Springs’ ordinance aims to limit how much it happens.

Starting on Sunday, March 1 people living west of I-25 are required to secure their trash either in a garage, shed or with a bear-resistant trash can.

“It applies to residents, single-family homes, apartments, townhomes, businesses—if you generate trash west of I-25, this code impacts you,” said Mitch Hennes, the neighborhood services manager for the city of Colorado Springs.

People can only have their trash outside on the day of trash day from 5 a.m.-7 p.m.

The change comes after conversations with Colorado Parks and Wildlife as wildlife managers in the agency said trash is one of the biggest causes of bear-human interactions.

Hennes said using rocks to weigh down a trash can, using straps or other do-it-yourself methods are not sufficient.

“Bears are really smart and they’re really driven to get whatever they smell inside that trash can and so, some people say, ‘Hey a rachet strap works great,’ but, if you get a really determined bear and you have food inside, that strap is not going to keep that bear out of the trash,” Hennes said.

Hennes said during surveys of people living on the west side of the city, the city found 80 percent of people already comply with the code that is soon to become law.

Enforcement will be based on complaints sent to code enforcement. The first fine will be $100 and $500 each time afterward, though, it may be a while before the city starts fining people.

“We’ll come knock on the door, just have a conversation. We want to find out what they do with their house currently—how they manage it that kind of stuff and if it’s just a small tweak or two, we’ll ask them to do that if. If that solves the problem then that’s really what we’re all about.” Hemmes said.

To learn more about bears in the city, click here.

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