Wildlife Protection Ordinance
Wildlife Protection Ordinance approved; new trash regulations effective April 1, 2016
At its September 8 meeting, the Estes Park Town Board unanimously approved a Wildlife Protection Ordinance that places wildlife-friendly requirements on residential and commercial trash management within Town limits, effective April 1, 2016. Police Chief Wes Kufeld recommended the new regulations, citing his concerns for both public and wildlife safety given the number of incidents police officers must respond to involving bears and residential or commercial trash (more than 120 this year), and the lack of trash containment regulations within the Municipal Code aside from litter regulations. The approved ordinance included community feedback as requested by the Town during the six-month public process, as well as the recommendations of the community’s Bear Education Task Force, which has researched and advocated for new trash regulations since 2012.
The Wildlife Protection Ordinance includes a grace period allowing nearly seven months (until April 1, 2016) for the Town and the Bear Education Task Force to educate the community on the options allowed by the ordinance, and to allow residents and businesses to update their trash management practices as necessary. The ordinance will also require bird feeders to be suspended on a cable or other device to make them inaccessible to bears when they are active, between April 1 and December 1 of each year.
The ordinance includes specific requirements for refuse located outside an enclosed structure (such as a residential or commercial building, shed or garage). Refuse is defined in the ordinance as any waste that could reasonably attract wildlife including, but not limited to, kitchen organic waste, food, food packaging, toothpaste, deodorant, cosmetics, spices, seasonings, oil and grease. Requirements for refuse containment do not apply to glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, aluminum, textiles, electronics, non-edible yard maintenance waste, construction materials and household items when not commingled with food waste attractants.
The Wildlife Protection Ordinance requires residential refuse to be stored in a typical hard-sided trash container with secured lid, and be placed outside the residence on pickup day only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Bag services would continue to operate with bags placed inside a hard-sided container, no longer left as-is curbside due to problems with wildlife, particularly birds and raccoons. This would reduce attractiveness to bears and increase public and wildlife safety. Residents choosing to leave refuse outside before 6 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on pickup day would need to utilize a wildlife-resistant container or enclosure.
The Wildlife Protection Ordinance requires commercial businesses (including vacation rental homes and special events) to store refuse in a wildlife-resistant container or wildlife-resistant enclosure at all times. Wildlife-resistant dumpsters are readily available locally, and in many cases there is no cost to upgrade. Oil and grease would be required to be stored in a wildlife-resistant container. Non-wildlife-resistant containers 95 gallons or less would be allowed when emptied by 10 p.m. daily or when they are contracted for pickup service overnight.