City Wildlife Ordinance FAQ

Who is impacted by these new regulations?

All residential, multi-family and commercial customers serviced by the City of Durango and private waste haulers within the City of Durango must comply with the regulations.

Why is this ordinance necessary?

The new regulations were enacted by the City of Durango to help limit the scattering of trash and to prevent bears and other wildlife from accessing neighborhood trash. Each year in our region dozens of bears die as a result of conflicts with humans, with trash being the root cause of these conflicts. Bears in our area have come to rely on household garbage and they can become more bold and aggressive in their attempts to obtain human foods and even enter homes in search of foods.

The intent of these new laws is to encourage the proper storage of trash for the purpose of minimizing conflicts between wildlife and people. The risk to the safety of residents from bears that have grown accustomed to being around people and the unfortunate preventable deaths of bears served as the catalyst for stricter regulations after educational and lawmaking efforts in previous years proved ineffective in reducing wildlife conflicts.

Do these regulations only apply to trash strewn by wildlife?

No. Residents are asked to store trash in a manner that excludes any scattering of trash, be it by wildlife, people, vehicles or any other means.

Are wildlife-resistant trash containers required in Durango?

No. Additional containers are required only in the event of a wildlife trash disturbance violation and you lack a secure location to store your trash or trash container.

When did these regulations come into effect?

City Council adopted the wildlife ordinance on May 18, 2010.

What are the main provisions of the wildlife ordinance?

Residents and businesses are asked to store trash in a manner that does not allow for it being accessed by wildlife and to abide by time restrictions on placing residential trash containers curbside only from 6:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the assigned day of trash collection.

Once your trash has been scattered by wildlife and you have received a courtesy warning violation, within 24 hours you are required to:

  • Store your trash during the week in a secure location, such as in a garage, shed, or enclosed structure, or
  • Lease a city-provided wildlife-resistant trash container at $4 a month in addition to current fees, or obtain a wildlife-resistant metal dumpster

After a wildlife trash disturbance and initial courtesy notice of violation, commercial, multi-family and residential customers are required to obtain a wildlife-resistant dumpster that prevents access by wildlife from their waste service provider, or be subject to current fines.  All wildlife-resistant containers, dumpsters and enclosures must be properly used and deployed to not allow for access by wildlife.

What is the penalty for a wildlife trash disturbance?

The initial violation will result in a courtesy warning notice of violation and you are required to store your trash in a manner that prevents access by wildlife or obtain a wildlife-resistant container. You are also required to abide by restrictions on time and location of residential trash container placement for curbside collection. A second violation will result in a fine of $50, and a third or subsequent violation of this section shall result in a fine of $100.

What should a resident do if they don’t have a garage or a place to store trash?

Cleaning your trash container periodically with a solution of ammonia and hot water to reduce odors is helpful. Freeze particularly smelly items, (meat, fish, and fruit for instance), until the morning of  trash collection and wrap tightly in plastic bags to reduce odors. If you lack a secure site to store your trash, try to be inventive in your trash storage. Bungie cords and ratchet straps sometimes work, but can be largely ineffective in keeping out a determined bear.

This ordinance does not limit time or placement of trash containers until a wildlife trash disturbance has occurred and you have received a courtesy notice of violation. If you receive a courtesy notice of violation and lack a garage, shed, or trash enclosure to store your trash, a wildlife-resistant trash container is required. Wildlife-resistant trash containers can be stored outside during the week, as long as they remain latched at all times, with the exception of being unlatched when placed curbside on the morning of trash collection.

How do I obtain a plastic wildlife-resistant residential trash container?

Medium and large wildlife-resistant residential trash containers are available from the City of Durango at $4 a month in addition to current fees. To obtain a wildlife-resistant residential trash container, contact the City’s Department of Sustainable Services at 375-5004.

How do I obtain an all-metal wildlife-proof dumpster?

To upgrade to metal lids with latching mechanisms or to obtain a commercial wildlife-proof metal dumpster, please contact your current waste provider. For inquiries, call the City’s Department of Sustainable Services at 375-5004, Waste Management at 247-1821 and WCA/Transit Waste at 247-0646. All-metal wildlife-proof dumpsters are typically available in 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 yard sizes.

Is there a cost associated with bear-proofing a commercial dumpster?

Yes. Waste haulers and the City of Durango will provide commercial wildlife-proof metal dumpsters or replace plastic lids with metal lids and latching mechanisms for an additional monthly service cost. Contact your waste provider for specific charges.

Can I construct a wildlife-resistant enclosure for my trash can or dumpster?

Yes. For more information contact the City of Durango Planning Department at 375-4850.

What are some other noteworthy provisions of the Wildlife Ordinance?

Feeding of wildlife is prohibited. It is illegal to leave or store any refuse, food product, pet food, grain, seeds or salt in a manner that would lure, attract or entice wildlife. The general rule of thumb for this ordinance is that trash, grease barrels, pet food, grain and seeds, barbecue grills, compost, chickens, fruit trees, etc are not an attractant to wildlife until they are. Then the issue of feeding of wildlife needs to be resolved.

What about bird feeders?

There are no restrictions on bird feeders in this ordinance and bird feeders are allowed. However, it is best to not feed birds from April 15 to November 15. If you do feed birds, it is recommended that you suspend bird feeders at least 10 feet off the ground and 10 feet away from places bears can access. Bird feeders should be brought inside at night and stored in a secure structure, along with any seed or sugar water.

What is the penalty for feeding of wildlife?

A first violation is punishable by a fine of not less that one hundred dollars ($100.00) and second and subsequent violations are punishable by a fine of not less than two hundred dollars ($200.00) and not more than three hundred dollars ($300.00).

Can I appeal to the City if I feel I have received a notice of violation in error?

Yes. An appeals process is in place if you feel you have received a citation in error. You may contact the City Manager’s office at 375-5000 with inquiries about how to appeal a violation.

Can I call to report violations of this ordinance?

Yes. You may call the City of Durango Code Enforcement at 375-4930 to report any wildlife ordinance violations including the scattering of trash or feeding of wildlife. In addition or as an option you can contact Bear Smart Durango and your report will be passed along to the proper authorities in confidence.

Who do I call if I have more questions about the ordinance?

For additional information about this ordinance, you may contact City of Durango Code Enforcement at 375-4930.

Copyright © 2010 | Bear Smart Durango and the City of Durango. Written and prepared by Bear Smart Durango with assistance from the City of Durango.