Proposed Bear Management Area West of I-25

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Colorado Springs is asking for community input regarding a proposal to require bear-resistant trash containers for properties west of I-25 and establish a “Bear Management Area Map.” There could be a financial impact to residents and businesses in the proposed Bear Management Area if this ordinance is passed by City Council.

There will be two public meetings with Council members, Richard Skorman (District 3) and Don Knight (District 1). Both Council Members represent the entire area of Colorado Springs west of I-25.

Public Meeting Details:


This City Code amendment proposes the creation of a “Bear Management Area Map,” to be adopted by separate resolution, to include most areas within the City limits that are west of I-25.  Within the Bear Management Area, bear attractant waste must be secured within a functioning bear-resistant waste container, or within a secured structure at all times, unless placed for collection no earlier than 5 a.m. on the day of collection.  Replacement of non-bear resistant waste containers within a secured structure would need to occur by 7 p.m. on the day of collection. This provision applies to all properties and zoning designations within the Bear Management Area to include single-family residential, multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial uses.

Complaints filed with the City’s NeighborhoodA geographic sub0area within the city that contains but is not limited to residential land uses. The extent of a neighborhood is variable and may be defined by tradition, organizational boundaries, the period of building and development, or subdivision patterns. Neighborhood boundaries may include such features as major streets or other physical elements. Services Division (Code Enforcement) will be investigated and should a violation be substantiated, a written notice, order and assessment of administrative fee(s) to the owner or agent of the owner and occupant shall be issued.  Notices will be in writing and personally served whenever feasible to the owner, agent of the owner, and/or occupant of the premises.  Administrative fees are as follows:

For a first violation, $100;
For a second violation, $250;
For a third and subsequent violation, $500.

Documents Presented at City Council Work Session

Video of City Council Work Session Presentation (July 22, 2019)

Background Information from Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The urban-wildland interface within the City of Colorado Springs is a large area, west of I-25, with an expanding residential population, making human/bear conflict more common.  Unsecured trash is one of the main attractants that draws bears into residential areas. The lack of natural food due to a spring freeze or drought drives the bears to seek alternative food sources, such as trash and bird feeders, thereby increasing the number of conflicts. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (“CPW”) spends countless hours responding to citizens calling about bears who have become habituated as they seek human food waste in trash.   In 2017, 30 bears were euthanized in El Paso and Teller Counties due to human/bear conflict.  In 2018, 15 bear cubs were orphaned, due to the euthanasia of habituated adult bears or bears being hit by cars.   For years, CPW Officers educated the public on the issues of bear attractants with no improvement. 

From 2011 to 2017, CPW performed a study in Durango, Colorado, and the science demonstrated that human/bear conflict could be reduced by 50% when bear-resistant containers were used by residents, and waste and attractants were controlled to reduce bear access.   Based on this information and the experience of other communities, a citizen’s group, the Colorado Springs Bear Smart Task Force, was established and set goals to reduce human/bear conflict, including development of a local ordinance that requires residents to secure trash in expedient ways.  

This ordinance aims to be aligned with the PlanCOS Vision to value the City’s natural spaces and to become the key strategy of environmental stewardship. It provides reasonable options for citizens to comply, is on a complaint basis and provides City Code Enforcement with the ability to assess administrative fees when there is no voluntary compliance.  This ordinance will reduce human/bear conflict, prevent trash from being spread when cans are knocked over, and keep people and bears safe.

Keep Wildlife Wild: Bears

Keep Wildlife Wild: Bears