Trash ordinance aimed to reduce bear, human contact now in effect

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) -- If you live west of I-25, the city will soon be cracking down on just how long your trash cans can be outside.

It's an effort to reduce the number of bears in Colorado Springs neighborhoods.

City council members passed the ordinance last October, and it goes into effect on March 1.

Under the new rules, homeowners will be required to keep their trash cans inside a garage, shed or other secure enclosure and only set it out between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. on their trash day, or they can buy a bear-resistant trash can.

Just in 2019 Colorado Parks and Wildlife had over 5,300 bear reports, with over 1,700 of those reports of bears in trash.

"First and foremost, it is public safety. It is going to keep people safe by reducing those attractants; you’re going to see less bears coming into town," said Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Cody Wigner. "Its also going to be better for the bears because they will rely less on the human food, which is terrible for them and their health in general, but it also puts their lives in jeopardy if they are a risk to people.”

Bears' main target is trash because it's an easy meal. Experts add that once a bear knows where it can get the easy grub, it comes back.

The ordinance wants to reduce the number of bears that are coming into neighborhoods to keep people and bears safe.

Some people have already started the habit of waiting to put out garbage until trash collection day.

"I think its a good thing. I feel like we are invading the wildlife's territory, so we should do the best we can to keep them safe and us safe," Colorado Springs resident Celeste Hill said.

The city told 11 News it wants to work with the public to educate them, rather than just handing out fines. That being said, if bears continue to come into your area because of the trash, you could face a $100 fine for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 for any subsequent violations.