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Is it true that bear-proof trash and recycling containers are required in Vail?
Yes. The provision is included in the town’s Wildlife Protection Ordinance.   

When did the regulations come into effect?
The Town Council adopted the stricter Wildlife Protection Ordinance in October 2006. One of the allowances of that ordinance gave trash customers until April 15, 2007 to comply with the mandatory container provision.  

Who is impacted by the regulations?
All residential, multi-family and commercial customers of the two trash hauling companies that service accounts in Vail must comply with the regulation. Construction sites and special event venues must also comply.

What is required per the regulations?
Residential customers with curbside trash removal service within the Town of Vail must have certified wildlife-resistant containers. All commercial and multi-dwelling trash customers within the Town of Vail must have wildlife-proof containers, or must construct a wildlife-resistant enclosure by August 1, 2007.  

How do I obtain a certified container?
The containers are available for purchase from the local trash service companies or may be purchased independently from a list of approved vendors.

How do I contact my local trash hauler?
For inquiries to Vail Honeywagon, call 970-476-3511 or email
 For inquiries to Waste Management, call 970-926-3396 or email or

What is the cost of a wildlife-resistant container?
Costs range from $160 to $220.

Am I required to label my container?
Yes. A street address and unit number are required to be permanently affixed to containers that are placed at the curb, alley or public right of way for collection with digits no smaller than two inches in height. The label may be placed on either the top or a side of the container. A black permanent marker is suggested.

What about my recycling container?
If you participate in curbside recycling, no additional containers are required. However, please rinse your items thoroughly before discarding. If the recycling materials attract wildlife in the future, you will be required to use a wildlife-resistant container for your recyclables.   

Can I use trash bags to dispose of yard waste?
Yes. Trash bags may be used to dispose of non-food refuse. However, all food refuse must be protected inside a wildlife-resistant trash container.

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

A wildlife resistant garbage can is fine as long as it does not get left on the street and remains latched at all times.

What other provisions of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance are noteworthy?
The Dawn to Dusk provision remains in effect. This means refuse may only be curbside from 6am to 7pm on your assigned pick up day, year-round. Also, intentional or unintentional feeding of wildlife is prohibited. Make sure your garbage can lid is secured and latched.

Why is this ordinance necessary?
The new regulations were enacted by the town to help protect bears and other wildlife from gaining access to neighborhood garbage. Last summer the Colorado Division of Wildlife euthanized two Vail area bears that had grown to rely on household garbage and eventually began to enter homes for food. This unfortunate action served as the catalyst for the stricter regulations after other enforcement efforts proved unsuccessful.

What will happen to people who don’t use approved trash cans?
Offenders will be subject to a municipal court summons.

What is the penalty for violation of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance?
Violators are subject to a fine of up to $999 and/or up to 180 days in jail.

Who do I call if I have more questions about the ordinance?
Call 970-479-2201 and ask for a Town of Vail police or code enforcement officer.

Where can I find more information about the topic of bears and other wildlife?

Contact Info

Vail Police
General Information

Dwight Henninger
Vail Police Chief

Craig Bettis
Administrative Commander

Ryan Kenney
Operations Commander

Marc Wentworth
Vail Public Safety Communications Center Director