The Bayfield Town Board voted unanimously Oct. 15 to increase monthly trash rates to provide bear-resistant trash cans for residents.
The rate increase would add $1.49 per month to the town’s current rate, $11.15, for each residence’s first Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee-certified can. WCA Waste Corp. will begin exchanging all trash cans with bear-resistant cans in 2020. A household’s rate will increase when it receives the new can.
“Not everyone will get a cart right away,” said Chris La May, Bayfield town manager. “The intent is to get them out before bears come out of hibernation.”
The monthly trash rate would increase from $11.15 to $12.64 for the first can and from $3.39 to $8.49 for each additional can.
The town pursued a five-year contract with WCA Waste to reduce human-bear conflicts in town. Bayfield had 17 bear incidents in 2017, according to the Bayfield Marshal’s Office. Law enforcement stopped tracking bear incidents in 2018.
“I applaud you for being proactive and hopefully cutting this out before you have a lot of problems like the city of Durango,” Bryan Peterson, executive director of Bear Smart Durango, said at the board meeting.
Bears come out of hibernation hungry in late spring, and they often return to areas where they’ve previously scavenged food.
“This would be huge for the town of Bayfield,” Peterson said. “Bears were unheard of in town five years ago. ... Once you remove trash from the equation, that’ll be a huge help.”