La Plata County Animal Protection’s newly assigned authority to enforce the county’s trash laws aimed at reducing human-bear conflicts went into effect Friday.
La Plata County commissioners approved the measure last month to increase enforcement of the trash laws, which require residents and business owners to use bear resistant/proof trash cans or limit times trash can be outside.
The regulations went into effect in 2008, but the agency tasked with imposing the law, the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, has not written any tickets despite an increase in bears breaking into garbage in the area.
The Sheriff’s Office has said it prefers to educate residents rather than write tickets because it would be unfair to punish residents who have a trash provider that doesn’t offer bear resistant/proof cans.
Because of a donation secured by Bear Smart Durango, the county was able to enlist La Plata County Animal Control, which is expected to be stricter in its enforcement of the trash laws.
Calls to Travis Woehrel, director of Animal Protection, were not immediately returned Friday morning.
If wildlife gets into trash, the property owner faces a $200 fine for the first violation, $300 for the second violation and $500 for subsequent violations. The fine may be dropped, however, if the resident buys or leases a bear-resistant trash can.