Fraser may consider its own bear ordinance
July 3, 2008
A day after the Winter Park Town Council gave its qualified approval to an ordinance requiring “bear-proof” trash containers, it was the Fraser Board of Trustees’ turn to consider a similar ordinance at its Wednesday, July 2, meeting.
Presenting the case for some sort of action was Fraser-Winter Park Police Chief Glenn Trainor and Kirk Oldham, area manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW). While no specific ordinance was recommended at Wednesday’s meeting, a proposal for one may be brought back in the next few weeks.
Using a Power Point presentation entitled “Human-Black Bear Conflicts,” Oldham said the town of Fraser is “definitely seeing an increase” in the number of bear-related incidents in recent years. He explained that bears, which would naturally try to avoid contact with humans, are only coming into town to feed because they can find unsecured trash and other food sources that are carelessly left outside by people.
Once bears become “habituated” to this “learned behavior” of feeding on trash, Oldham said dire consequences can result for the animals when they become aggressive or are involved in “nuisance incidents.” He said DOW has a “two-strike policy,” with wildlife officers being forced to euthanize bears after a second “nuisance” incident.
Oldham said the solution is to “focus on trash management.” He said many Western Slope towns had enacted ordinances requiring “bear-proof” and “resistant” trash containers and enclosures.
Discussing the close 4-3 passage of the Winter Park ordinance in its first reading Tuesday, Trainor said the trustees who voted against it were “worrying about the cost” that requiring wildlife-resistant trash containers and enclosures would have on residents and businesses. While admitting an enclosure’s cost is “fairly significant,” he said Dumpsters and other containers might be “retrofitted” with latches and other locking devices to prevent bears getting inside.
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While all of the Fraser trustees agreed a problem exists with bears and other wildlife getting into trash, they were also concerned about costs. One trustee said he “didn’t see the need to get draconian right off the bat” with a strict ordinance.
However, the board expressed some interest in considering the idea when Mayor Fran Cook suggested a “cost-sharing” measure between the town and businesses for bear-proof enclosures.
In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, Chamber of Commerce Director Catherine Ross reported the first “Picnic in the Park” on Tuesday evening was a success. The issue of vendors was raised with the trustees agreeing that vendors should not be allowed to sell items at upcoming picnics this summer, but sponsors would be permitted.