Letter & response: Bear incident in Winter Park should be a wake up call | SkyHiNews.com

Letter & response: Bear incident in Winter Park should be a wake up call

It was only a matter of time before we read the headline: “Winter Park Employee attacked by Bear” given the unconcerned attitude displayed by some Winter Park town staff and council toward Bear Smart Trash Management.

I’ve been urging both staff and council members for over a year to update the city trash ordinance to require businesses and residents to secure trash inside a building or in bear proof containers. 

The response was to “educate the community” via social media. It’s not working. If it had been a locked bear proof dumpster, this incident would not have happened.  This should be a wake up call for our city leaders. Hopefully they will take action before someone is seriously hurt and we have to kill another bear.

— Linda Behlen, Winter Park

The town’s response follows:

Ms. Behlen, all of us share your desire to ensure that no one is injured and that no more bears have to be killed. As you know, town code has two sections that address this issue.

• Section 4-10-9 prohibits people from intentionally or unintentionally feeding wildlife through the storage of garbage or refuse in a manner that creates a lure or enticement for wildlife.

• Section 4-10-11 allows the town to issue a notice of violation and order a resident or business to purchase and use a wildlife-proof refuse container if the town receives more than one documented, substantiated report in any 12-month period of a violation.

Unfortunately, we did not receive any notices or indications of the violations that were occurring within our commercial business district. Because of the incidents being brought to our attention, we can now take action to address these concerns. Should we continue seeing problems with bears and residents/businesses failing to comply with the codes, the town council may wish to consider elevated actions similar to what Aspen and other communities are doing.

I appreciate your continued efforts to highlight this issue and to report properties in your neighborhood that have been visited by bears. Your continued help is greatly appreciated.

— Keith Riesberg, Winter Park town manager

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