The city of Durango is distributing 600 new bear-resistant garbage cans this spring to help keep the hungry omnivores out of town.
City crews started distribution this week in an area of town identified as a hotspot for bears by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife study. Next year, the city will distribute 500 cans as part of the second phase of the project.
Homes south of Seventh Street between East Second Avenue and East Ninth Avenue should have new cans by May 4.
“We’re going to take them out in small batches,” City Operations Director Levi Lloyd said.
Residents who receive cans will see a $4 charge added to their monthly utility bill to pay for the cans, he said. Residents must pay the fee for 4½ years to pay back the cost of the $220 cans. The first 600 residences to receive cans could see the additional charge on their May bill, Lloyd said.
Durango City Council plans to pass a new ordinance in March that will make wildlife-resistant cans in certain areas mandatory after a CPW study found bears learn to avoid areas where food is not readily available.
The charge will be added to utility bills after the local law is passed, he said.
Residents who already pay $4 per month for a wildlife-resistant can will get one of the new cans, without having to pay for the second can. Residents who have already paid in full for a wildlife-resistant can will not be charged again, a news release said.
The city will collect the old cans and auction them online, Lloyd said. Any revenue generated from the auction will go into the city’s trash and recycling fund to pay for future construction or equipment costs, he said.
The new cans have automatic locks so that residents will not have to unlock the cans for their trash to be collected, Lloyd said.
Next year, hundreds of cans will be distributed in a neighborhood west of north Main Avenue to Highland Avenue. The southern boundary will be Ella Vita Court and the northern boundary of the distribution area will be Arroyo Drive and West 23rd Street.
Residents south of Seventh Street should leave their garbage can out so that city crews can swap it for a new wildlife-resistant can. Crews will replace containers in the neighborhood Monday through Friday until May.
For more information, call 375-5004 or visit durangogov.org/wildlife.