BAYFIELD – The Bayfield Board of Trustees might switch the entire town over to bear-resistant trash cans, but it will take a rate increase to do so.
If approved, 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 bear-resistant can. The town board will consider the increase at its next meeting, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and residents will be able to participate during a public comment period.
“We know that we have bear-human conflicts in the town of Bayfield,” said Chris La May, town manager. “I believe that any steps we can take to minimize the conflict is beneficial for the community.”
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. Monthly curbside recycling rates would stay the same at $6 per month, and residents would still be able to roll the cans out to the curb for weekly collection.
Bayfield had 17 bear incidents in 2017, according to the Bayfield Marshal’s Office. Law enforcement stopped tracking bear incidents in 2018.
“This week we’ve had multiple incidents with a bear that seems to be in the downtown area,” La May said.
When human food is available, human-caused bear mortality can go up. Bears might damage more property and threaten human safety, according to a five-year Colorado Parks and Wildlife study in Durango. Adding bear-resistant trash cans dropped trash-related conflicts in Durango by 60%, the study found.
The board generally approved switching the town over to bear-proof cans during a meeting early in September.
“I’ve had a bunch of citizens interested in having this option,” said Mayor Matt Salka, and considering the small rate increase, “Gosh, it’s pretty darn good in my opinion.”
The bear-resistant cans would have gravity-sensitive locks. Bears could chew through them, but the lids would not open if the bear tipped the can over.
Bayfield has been looking into replacing its garbage roll-out cans with bear-resistant cans since July. The town received two bids for the service and made a five-year contract with WCA-Transit Waste, the lowest qualified bidder.
“I don’t want to kill bears,” said Trustee David Black at the September meeting. “This is an easy, proactive fix.”