Bear Management and Resistant Trash Ordinance

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About the Ordinance

Colorado Springs City Council adopted two ordinances to help manage wild bears in neighborhoods west of I-25. Effective March 1, 2020, the ordinances require residents and businesses within the bear management area to secure their trash or use bear-resistant trash containers and the establishment of a “Bear Management Area Map.”

Who is affected by the new ordinance?

The “Bear Management Area Map,” includes most areas within the city limits west of I-25. Residents and businesses in the Bear Management Area must secure their trash within a functioning bear-resistant waste container, or within a secured structure at all times.


map of ordinance area. area of ordinance includes neighborhoods west of i-25

The Bear Management Area Map includes most areas within the city limits west of I-25. 

How to secure your trash

Colorado Springs residents and businesses west of I-25 are required to secure their trash.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Securing their trash in a garage, shed or other secure structure. Trash bins should only be outside of the secure structure on trash collection days from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. The majority of homes will already meet this requirement with standard practices.


  • For those who cannot store their trash in a secured structure, they will need to obtain a bear-resistant trash can. Certified bear-resistant waste containers can be provided by your trash collection company, or you can purchase your own certified containers. 

This practice applies to all properties and zoning designations within the Bear Management Area to include single-family residential, multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial uses. Recycle bins do not have to be bear-resistant.

Enforcement and fines

Complaints of bear activity in a neighborhood due to unsecured trash will be investigated, and should a violation be substantiated, a written notice, order and assessment of administrative fee(s) to the owner or agent of the owner and occupant shall be issued. Citations will be in writing and personally served whenever feasible to the owner, agent of the owner, and/or occupant of the premises. The Neighborhood Services Division seeks compliance through education and will endeavor to help remedy the situation before issuing fines for non-compliance, however, the cost of citations are as follows:

  • First violation – $100
  • Second violation – $250
  • Third and subsequent violation – $500

Garbage Kills Bears

It may sound dramatic, but it’s true. A bear that’s food-conditioned will always come back for a handout...and if it happens to be a residential neighborhood or commercial area, that’s a problem—for bears and humans. For residents in bear country, putting trash out only on the morning of pick-up cuts the chances of a bear visit from 70% to 2%.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do apartment buildings and local businesses have to use bear-resistant trash containers?

Yes. Apartment complexes and businesses within the Bear Management Area will need to comply with the ordinance.

Does this ordinance apply to recycle bins?

No. Recycle bins should be free from food and other attractants so they are not required to be secure during non-trash collection days.

What other ways can I reduce the occurrence of bears and other wildlife in my neighborhood?

Be sure to keep your grill, pet food, compost, and bird feeders either safely sheltered when not in use.

I've purchased a bear-resistant container, but how can I encourage compliance by my neighbors?

Securing trash discourages human/bear conflicts. If you are experiencing bear activity in your neighborhood due to unsecured trash during non-trash collection days, contact the Neighborhood Services Division to work your neighborhood to remedy the problem.

Background and public input

From 2011 to 2017, Colorado Parks and Wildlife performed a study in Durango, Colorado, and the findings demonstrated that human/bear conflict could be reduced by 50% when bear-resistant containers were used by residents to control access to waste and attractants.

Based on this information and the experience of other communities, a citizen's group, the Colorado Springs Bear Smart Task Force, was established to set goals to reduce human/bear conflict, including the development of a local ordinance that requires residents to secure trash in desirable ways. Two public meetings were held in August 2019 with Council members, Richard Skorman (District 3) and Don Knight (District 1), who represent the entire area of Colorado Springs west of I-25.

The Colorado Springs Bear Smart Task Force

The Colorado Springs Bear Smart Task Force is made up of representatives from Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, City of Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO), as well as many neighbors and volunteers.