Winter Park’s toothless bear ordinance scarcely worth having
August 15, 2008
At a time when mountain towns across the state are passing stricter bear ordinances to protect citizens and save the lives of bears coming into town for food, Winter Park Town Council effectively declawed its own ordinance last week.
Before passing a bear ordinance brought to them by Winter Park / Fraser Police Chief Glen Trainor, several changes were made to pacify concerns expressed during the approval process.
The final ordinance put on the books last Wednesday was a shell of the original.
After reading through the changes, we are left to ask ” do we have a bear ordinance at all?
The ordinance revisions included allowing homeowners to use any type of trash container, but it must be kept indoors until the pick-up day, residents are permitted to have bird feeders on their properties unless it is obvious the feeders are attracting bears, ticketing only after two violations within a 12-month period, requiring trash companies to provide “wildlife proof refuse containers” to new customers while grandfathering existing trash enclosures unless violations are documented.
A reading of this ordinance makes us wonder if the council isn’t more afraid of people complaining about the inconvenience of a bear ordinance than they are of the actual bear problem.
Most likely, it won’t do any good to ask the council to revisit this ordinance.
Instead, we ask that they ask themselves, “What was the objective of this ordinance and did we achieve it?”
Let’s watch for one more bear season to see if the bear ordinance now on the books is effective in dealing with wildlife issues.
If it is, then the council did its job. If, as we predict, it is not, we ask the council revisit the ordinance more honestly next year and put something on the books that has some teeth.
In the meantime, anyone who was afraid the new bear ordinance would cost them money can rest assured ” they won’t have to do a thing.
Except call the Division of Wildlife when bears discover trash day.