Heftier fines for bear-strewn trash are making a come back, as warmer temperatures persist.
The Durango City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance Monday eliminating warnings for bear-spread trash and instituting a $100 fine for a first violation of the ordinance. The ordinance also requires residents to get a bear-proof container following their first offense.
The council approved the same emergency ordinance earlier this fall. It expired in late October.
Councilor Sweetie Marbury suggested re-approving the ordinance at a meeting last week to help, because warm temperatures are keeping bears from their winter hibernation.
The new emergency ordinance will expire on Jan. 18.
“We hope the bears will be hibernating by then,” City Attorney Dirk Nelson said.
Code Enforcement Officer Steve Barkley said in October one resident faced a $100 fine for violating the ordinance for wildlife-spread trash. In the same month, 16 city trash containers had to be repaired or replaced because of marauding bears, he said.
“October is usually one of the heavier bear times as they are trying to add on the calories. ... It was a very quiet month,” he said.
In September, 25 fines were issued to residents who had wildlife break into their garbage.
Barkley said the earlier ordinance helped get residents’ attention.
“The word got around they need to take care of their trash,” he said.