Bears are waking up early this year, and if they forage in garbage cans, residents will face new consequences.
Those caught with wildlife-strewn trash will now be required to buy automatically-locking garbage cans from the city instead of paying a fine.
Durango City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday formalizing the rule.
Residents will be charged a $100 fee for the can delivery, and they will also be required to pay $4 per month for the can for about 4½ years until the $220 can is paid off. The rule will likely take effect in May, City Operations Director Levi Lloyd said.
The ordinance also requires two areas of town that are known hotspots for bears to have wildlife-resistant cans. The city is delivering 600 cans to homes south of Seventh Street between East Second Avenue and East Ninth Avenue. More cans will be delivered next year to a neighborhood on the west side of Durango.
The additional cans and the new ordinance are aimed at preventing human-bear conflict. The council encouraged residents without bear-resistant garbage cans to request one from the city.
The city purchased an additional 200 bear-resistant cans for those caught with wildlife-strewn trash and those who request cans, Lloyd said.
If people caught with wildlife-strewn trash and they already have a wildlife-resistant can, they will be fined $100 under the new ordinance without being given a warning, councilors agreed.
The city had about $28,000 leftover from purchasing the new cans for residents and that money will used to retrofit city-owned commercial dumpsters downtown with wildlife-resistant lids this year, Lloyd said.