A wildlife ordinance in Durango aimed at cutting animal interference with garbage cans isn't out of the woods yet.
The proposed law passed its first reading 4-1 last month, but councilors are stuck over a couple of important
As written, it would make storing trash on city streets and alleys illegal, except between 5:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. on
A majority of the council wants to make an exception for residents who store their cans all week in alleys behind their
houses. Councilor Doug Lyon said the law as written would be unfair to thousands" of downtown residents who don't have
garages or other areas suitable for storing garbage.
The city provides trash service for more than 4,300 residential units, collecting six days a week - neighborhoods on
weekdays and commercial trash on Saturdays.
Bryan Peterson, director of Bear Smart Durango, likes the ordinance how it is.
(The ordinance) isn't perfect," he said. But it has all the elements and tools needed to reduce the amount of trash
available to bears."
The most important thing a community can do to prevent bear conflicts is secure its trash, Peterson said, and the
dawn-to-dusk rule is needed because bears do most of their foraging at night.
Peterson wants the law to apply to everyone, even homeowners without garages.
Councilor Paul Broderick also wants to leave alleys in the ordinance because, he said, it's unfair to have stricter
rules for parts of town without alleys, like the Crestview neighborhood, where he lives (Lyon and the rest of the
councilors live downtown).
Broderick was the lone vote against the ordinance two weeks ago.
I really think that if we have to pass an ordinance, it should be simple and fair," he said.
The other sticking point - when residents should be allowed to leave out their trash - is more contentious. The
ordinance now says cans are to be placed for pickup dawn to dusk" - on collection days only.
The city's current rules allow residents to store cans on public rights of way from noon the day before pickup until
noon the day after.
Councilor Christina Thompson said she wants the law to accommodate early risers and residents with early flights to
I don't want it to be overly burdensome," she said.
Lyon wants the time-of-placement rules to stay how they are.
Fining residents for storing their trash on the street, while allowing others to do it in other parts of town, is not a
good way to stop a bear problem, he said. And bears have no appreciation for property boundaries or other legal
We cannot have an ordinance that does not treat everyone fairly," he said. I would like to make this about trash and
not can placement."
The penalties for violating the storage rules - and for scattered trash and feeding wildlife - involve an initial
warning, a $50 fine for a second violation and a $100 fine for a third violation. In lieu of paying the fines, a
resident has the option to begin renting a wildlife-resistant trash container from the city.
These issues will be vetted at Tuesday's study session, and amendments to the ordinance could be in place by its second
reading at the May 18 council meeting.
Though Lyon said the differences of opinion could be cleared up in 30 minutes," the council seems far from a
The council has been looking at passing a trash-focused wildlife ordinance since 2007, a particularly bad bear year. In
a February study session, the idea of forbidding overnight trash-can placement was sold by Bear Smart, a nonprofit
organization that received $5,000 from the city last year to help fight the city's bear problem, as the smartest
Councilors since have reported a cold reception from the public.
If the council doesn't come up with a solution Tuesday, the ordinance process could start over. The council also could
pass the parts of the ordinance deemed acceptable by a majority or pass nothing at all.
The issue was squeezed onto Tuesday's agenda in hopes of passing something before bears show up in town en masse.
Councilor Leigh Meigs said she'd like to rewrite parts of the ordinance.
I don't know that we're doing this the right way," she said.