Colorado Springs City Council adopted Oct. 22, 2019, two ordinances to help manage wild bears in neighborhoods west of I-25. Together, the ordinances effective March 1, 2020, require residents to secure their trash or use bear-resistant trash containers and established a “Bear Management Area Map.”
Two public meetings were held in August 2019 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.
The “Bear Management Area Map,” includes most areas within the city limits west of I-25.
Residents who live in the Bear Management Area must secure their trash within a functioning bear-resistant waste container, or within a secured structure at all times.
Trash Collection days
On designated trash collection days non-bear resistant waste containers may be placed for collection no earlier than 5 a.m. and must be placed within a secured structure by 7 p.m. the same day. This 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 Neighborhood 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
- Bear Resistant Trash Can Ordinance
- Bear Management Area Map
- Bear Smart Taskforce PowerPoint
- Summary of other Colorado Ordinances
- CPW PowerPoint Presentation to City Council
- Bear Smart Task Force Handout
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.