Last updated 2:02PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Bear Woes Could Mean Bear Proofing
(2007-08-14)
TOP: An alley just west of main and south of 32nd Friday morning.
MIDDLE: More bear trashed trash.
BOTTOM: A bear proof container like this may soon be offered through the city to residential trash customers.
(Photos: Courtesy Bryan Peterson, Bear Smart Durango)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Bear proof garbage containers may soon be made available to Durango residents, at a cost, as efforts continue to address a major bear problem.
And that problems is expected to worsen as this week marks the historic start of the bear feeding frenzy in preparation for winter hibernation.
KSUT's Victor Locke has more.

VICTOR: It's believed spring freezes depleted natural food sources high country, bringing bears to lower elevations this year to feed.
They've been particularly troublesome in the city of Durango and other developed areas, where they find trash accessible.
Bear Smart Durango Director Bryan Peterson rides Durango Streets and alleys three to four days a week, looking for evidnce of bears.
PETERSON: I KINDA STARTED DOING THIS JUST BECAUSE WE HAD TO SHOW THE CITY THAT THE PROBLEM WAS INDEED HAPPENING, THEY JUST WEREN'T SEEING IT
In the last three weeks, his corps of 20 volunteers has tagged 1-thousand garbage containers accessible to or hit by bears.
I joined him last Friday, before dawn.
PETERSON: ...AND I WAS GETTING A TON OF CALLS FROM RESIDENTS SAYING HEY...THIS IS GOING ON...COME AND CHECK IT OUT.
It took just a couple minutes before we found plenty of bear evidence in an alley just south of 32nd.
VICTOR: HERE WE GO, THIS GUYS PICKUP TRUCK IS LOADED WITH GARBAGE IN THE BACK, AND SOMEBODY CAME AND HAD A PARTY.
PETERSON: AND THE BIG DUMPSTER GOT HIT AND THE 300 GALLON CONTAINER GOT HIT.
VICTOR: THIS HAS GOT TO BE ONE OF THE BETTER ONES YOU'VE SEEN AND THERE'S A LITTLE BEAR EVIDENCE ON THE ROAD THERE.
PETERSON: BIG PILE OF SCAT RIGHT THERE TO. THAT IS A LOT OF TRASH, THAT'S ABOUT THE MOST I'VE SEEN IN ONE PLACE AND THIS IS ANOTHER REPEAT OFFENDER, WE'VE SEEN THIS AREA GET HIT BEFORE, THIS DUMPSTER, AND YOU CAN SEE THE TRASH, THE BEAR DRAGGED THE TRASH OVER TO HEAR, HAD A LITTLE FEAST OVER THERE. A LOT OF TIMES I'LL SEE THE CAN KNOCKED OVER, AND THERE'S NOTHING IN IT, AND I'LL TAKE THE PICTURE AND PEOPLE WILL SAY HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS WAS AND HOW DO YOU KNOW IT WAS A BEAR AND NOT A RACCOON? IT'S BECAUSE YOU FIND THIS PILE OF TRASH DRAGGED OFF. THEY NORMALLY DRAG IT OFF UNDER COVER WHERE THEY CAN GO AND FEED.
VICTOR: THAT WAS ONE BIG RACCOON IF IT WAS A RACCOON.
PETERSON: IF THIS IS A RACCOON WE'VE GOT A REAL RACCOON PROBLEM.
VICTOR: HOW CAN YOU TELL IF IT'S ONE OR MORE BEARS?
PETERSON: YOU CAN'T. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY BEARS ARE DOING THIS, IF WE HAVE FIVE BEARS IN TOWN DOING THIS OR TWELVE. WHAT PUZZLES ME IS I FIND A LOT OF REALLY GOOD FOOD IN THE TRASH THAT THEY DON'T EAT. I'VE FOUND HALF A HAM AND A BUNCH OF HAMBURGER BUNS AND JELLY ROLLS IN ONE AND I WONDER WHY THEY PASSED THAT UP, WHY HE MOVED ON TO SOMETHING ELSE. THEY REALLY LIKE THE DUMPSTERS BEHIND THE FAST FOOD PLACES, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO NEED TO BE ADDRESSED.
VICTOR: HOW EFFECTIVE DO YOU THINK TAGGING THESE CANS HAS BEEN.
PETERSON: I'VE SEEN A LOT LESS CANS IN CERTAIN AREAS OF TOWN. IN CERTAIN AREAS IT'S BEEN PRETTY EFFECTIVE. IT HASN'T BEEN EFFECTIVE IN SOME OF THE REAL PROBLEM AREAS WHERE PEOPLE DON'T HAVE A PLACE TO STORE THEIR TRASH CONTAINER.
VICTOR: NOW THOSE MIGHT BE GOOD CANDIDATES FOR BEAR PROOF CONTAINERS?
PETERSON: DEFINITELY
VICTOR: YOU'RE EMAILING THESE PICTURES TO CITY OFFICIALS.
PETERSON: YEH, I EMAIL THEM ABOUT THREE TIMES A WEEK. I EMAIL THE CITY OFFICIALS, THE CITY MANAGER AND THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND I ASKED THEM A COUPLE WEEKS AGO IF THEY WERE SICK OF THESE AND THEY SAID "OH NO, THIS IS GREAT, KEEP IT UP." I THINK THIS WOKE THEM UP AND IT REALLY SHOWED THEM THAT BEARS ARE ACCESSING A LOT OF TRASH IN TOWN AND IT'S A PROBLEM FOR MANY REASONS BUT THE MOST BEING THAT BEARS ARE ACCESSING HUMAN FOOD AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BUNCH OF BEARS RUNNING AROUND TOWN.
VICTOR: DO YOU THINK BEAR PROOF CONTAINERS ARE SOMETHING THAT WE REALLY NEED TO SERIOUSLY LOOK AT?
PETERSON: WELL IF WE HAD BEARPROOF CONTAINERS YOU AND I WOULDN'T BE LOOKING AT THIS RIGHT NOW. SO WHAT WE'RE PROPOSING TO THE CITY WOULD COVER ANY RESIDENT IN TOWN WHO WANTS A BEAR PROOF TRASH CONTAINER COULD GET ONE AT A NOMINAL MONTHLY FEE. THEN WE'D HAVE TO ADDRESS ALL THE COMMERCIAL DUMPSTERS, AND THEN WE'D HAVE TO GO AND PRESENT TO THE COUNTY AND PROPOSE THAT AS WELL.
VICTOR: HOW LIKELY DO YOU THINK IT IS WE'LL HAVE A MANDATORY BEAR PROOF CONTAINER LAW?
PETERSON: I DON'T KNOW ABOUT MANDATORY YET, I'M NOT SURE IF THE CITY OR THE RESIDENTS ARE READY FOR THAT. THAT WOULD BE BY FAR THE BEST THING.
VICTOR: LET'S GO ON AND SEE IF WE CAN TOP THIS?
VICTOR: We rode another 20-minutes or so and saw dozens more trash containers tipped over, their contents strewn about the neighborhood.
Peterson says he's been able to document patterns to the bruins visits.
He's hoping a bear proof container program is offered soon in Durango, as well as in outlying areas, at a cost of 5-7 dollars per month.
The State Division of Wildlife, in an effort announced last week, is also promising to crackdown by writing citations for those who don't bear proof their property.
You can see pictures from our tour, and find out more, by going to ksut.org and clicking on this story in regional news.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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