A few bears wandering Durango this winter prompted Durango City Council to extend an emergency ordinance aimed at encouraging residents to secure their trash.
Councilors unanimously approved the ordinance Tuesday, ensuring that those caught with bear-strewn trash will pay higher fines through March 16. The emergency ordinance was previously set to expire this week.
The emergency ordinance eliminates warnings and requires residents to pay a $100 fine for the first violation and $200 for any subsequent violations. Residents are also required to get a bear-proof can if they are caught with bear-strewn trash.
Many hungry bears came to town this year looking for food in garbage cans after a late frost eliminated many natural food sources, such as berries and nuts.
During bear season, the city issued 230 violations, and of those, 44 residents paid fines amounting to $3,500. After the emergency ordinance went into effect, 25 people were fined.
The last bear-related violation was issued on Dec. 4, Code Enforcement Officer Steve Barkley said. Since then, he has not responded to any calls about bears.
Although recently, there have been reports on social media about a bear cub, likely orphaned, wandering around town.
“It is shocking that we should need to re-enact this emergency ordinance in the middle of the winter,” Mayor Dick White said.
The council is expected to revisit bear management in a more comprehensive way soon.
The city also plans to distribute hundreds of bear-proof cans to keep bears away from homes.