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Bears take heed: No pic-a-nic baskets for you

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Joey Medina, lead operator at Durango Recycling Center, pulls a 60-gallon bear-proof trash container next to a 90-gallon one at the center. The city has started distributing the cans to residents in selected areas.

By Dale Rodebaugh Herald staff writer

The first of 900 bear-proof trash cans were distributed in Durango last week.

“The neighborhoods to receive the cans were selected because they’re the most vulnerable,” Mary Beth Miles, the city’s sustainability coordinator, said Friday. “All the containers should be delivered by May.”

Homeowners who don’t get one of the 900 receptacles can rent one from the city for $4 month or buy one. If a can is purchased it must be the type that fits in city trucks.

The city collects garbage from 4,500 customers. But the bear-proof cans went to areas where ursines regularly rummage through containers looking for food.

In 2012, there were 916 reports of bears raiding garbage cans, Bryan Peterson, founder of Bear Smart Durango, said in his annual report. Bear Smart Durango offers advice for living in bear country – advice such as keeping garbage, pet food, barbecue grills and bird feeders out of reach of prowling bears.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Summerlee Foundation bought the bear-resistant containers, which ultimately will be donated to the city.

Miles didn’t know Friday if the containers will stay with the recipient when a Colorado Parks and Wildlife study of bear dynamics ends or will be reassigned.

The state agency is starting the third year of a five- to six-year project to learn about human/bear relations. Researchers place radio collars on bears to track their wanderings.

Miles said the distribution of bear-resistant cans coincides with the second round of delivering single-stream recycling bins.

Crews from the trash and recycling division have delivered 2,000 single-stream recycling containers. An additional 600 containers will be distributed starting April 1, Miles said.

The 650 containers are for households that signed up after the initial registration period, Miles said.


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