Sunday, August 19, 2007

Be Aware of Bears

The Breckenridge Police Department is cracking down on violations of the town's trash ordinance in an effort to keep foraging bears out of garbage cans around town.

The police department has noticed an increase in the past week of bears coming to feed in local garbage cans, according to a press release from Breckenridge Police spokeswoman Crystal Dean.

"This is unhealthy for the bears, problematic for the community and could result in a ticket for the homeowner," Dean wrote.

So far this summer, the police department has issued 200 to 300 warnings to property owners for violating the trash ordinance and will start handing out citations, which require a court appearance. The ordinance, passed in 2001, addresses placement and use of garbage cans and similar receptacles.

All households are required to store garbage cans inside a home, garage, building or shed. Garbage cans may be placed at the curbside on the day of pickup only and must be removed by 10 p.m. that evening. The only exception to this requirement is if the can is equipped with some type of latching mechanism that will hold the lid securely to the can.

Some bears actively feed for 20 hours a day and ingest as much as 20,000 calories to prepare for winter hibernation. If natural foods are not readily available, bears will travel over 60 miles to find other food. Once bears know where to find a non-natural food source they will return again and again.

Some things you can do to help keep the bears in the woods, and trash in the cans:

• Keep your garbage secured inside until morning of trash pickup

• Ensure you have a locking lid on any garbage stored outside - call your carrier on how to obtain a wildlife-proof receptacle

• Ensure bird feeders and other sources of food are not bear-accessible

• Keep your grill clean of any food debris

The Breckenridge Police Department will be working with the local Bear Aware group to identify trash violations in the community and strict enforcement will be taken.

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