Winter Park proposes ‘bear ordinance’
June 25, 2008
Fraser-Winter Park Police and the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) met Tuesday night to discuss a potential bear ordinance with Winter Park citizens.
“The natural beauty and the abundant wildlife are the benefits of living in Colorado,” said Kirk Oldham, district wildlife manager. “We like seeing the wildlife and we like having the wildlife around, but with these benefits come responsibilities.”
The purpose of the proposal is to “protect and maintain wildlife in the town of Winter Park and surrounding areas and to minimize the risk of dangerous interaction between humans and wildlife.”
If the ordinance is adopted, residents will have to place their trash in either wildlife-resistant refuse containers, wildlife-proof refuse containers, or keep it inside containers within their homes, garage or a wildlife-resistant enclosure “at all times.”
The proposal would have to be approved by the Town Council, but a date has not been set for council to consider it. The town of Fraser may also consider such an ordinance, officials said.
A wildlife-resistant refuse container is a fully enclosed plastic container with a sturdy plastic lid and latching mechanism that prevents access by wildlife. A wildlife-proof refuse container is a fully enclosed metal container with a metal lid and latching mechanism to prevent wildlife access.
These containers are needed if trash includes “refuse,” waste that could attract wildlife including: kitchen organic waste, food, food packaging, toothpaste, deodorant, cosmetics, spices, seasonings or grease.
Items that would not be considered refuse such as yard waste, household items and cardboard would not have to be stored in a special container, according to the proposed ordinance.
Residents with curbside pick-up would have to set out their approved trash containers outside after 6 a.m. on the day it gets picked up, and remove the containers the same day by 7 p.m.
Multi-family housing developments and other types of “clustered” residential housing would be required to use wildlife-proof containers or a wildlife-resistant enclosure to hold refuse. The closure or container would be kept secured at all times except when depositing refuse.
Construction sites would also have to use approved refuse containers.
The ordinance states that feeding wildlife is prohibited. No person shall “intentionally or unintentionally” feed wildlife on private or public property in Winter Park. Bird feeders are allowed, but between the dates of April 15 to Nov. 15, “all bird feeders must be suspended on a cable or other devise so bears can not reach them. The area below the feeders also would have to be kept free from the “accumulation of seed debris.”
Winter Park police and code enforcement officers would have the power to issue a warning notice or summons and complaint to any person who violates the rules. During “reasonable” hours they will be able to inspect any property that could be in violation of the bear ordinance.
“We’re not going to be a bunch of storm troopers and come breaking down your door,” said Fraser-Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor. “But we do want to have the ability to come in and look at your property.”
For the first violation, a person could receive a Notice of Violation. If the violator does not correct the problem within 72 hours, they could receive a second notification. For the first notice the fine could be excused or the person could have to a fine up to $100; for the second violation, up to $200; and third violation would “constitute a misdemeanor” and the person would have to appear in a municipal court.
In addition to penalties, violators could have to remove bird feeders or pet food, clean their barbecue grills, or be required to use the correct trash containers.
Several other resort towns have similar bear ordinances.
Some of full-time residents said at the meeting they’re tired of cleaning up the scattered trash that the part-time residents leave behind.
“I’m really pleased to hear the town is considering something like this,” said Irene Jans of Winter Park. “It’s really necessary.”