Basalt and state wildlife officials are undertaking a major education effort to try to reduce bear and human conflicts heading into what could be an active fall for bruins.
Basalt police officers also will be writing tickets to people who don’t adequately secure food sources, if need be, to get the message across.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have advised us to expect more bears to be coming into Basalt due to limited food sources at higher elevations,” Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott wrote in a recent memo to the Town Council.
“Currently we have nine bears residing in town with more on the way due to alternative food sources being readily available.”
The town government will host three community meetings in September to raise awareness about provisions of its Wildlife Protection Guidelines, in place since May 2001, and to share information on how to avoid conflicts. The community meetings are the highlight of a “Bear Aware” program.
The community meetings will be held Sept. 10, 18 and 24, all at 6 p.m. at Town Hall. Officers and volunteers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife will provide pointers on how homeowners and business owners can avoid conflicts.
Volunteers with the state wildlife agency also will attend the Sunday Farmers Market in Basalt to provide interested parties with tips on how to deal with problem bears.
Police and community-service officers also will contact residents and business owners in places where there have been problems already this year and provide information.
The town’s wildlife rules require that homes and businesses use trash containers that are wildlife-resistant. As an alternative, trash containers can be stored in a secured building and put out only on the day of pickup.
Knott said compliance was spotty earlier this summer but has improved after bear issues popped up. He estimated the Police Department is averaging five bear calls per day, mostly during evenings.
There are numerous trash containers around the elementary and middle school campus that aren’t compliant, Knott told the Town Council at its Aug. 26 meeting.
The council approved the Bear Aware program 6-0.
Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said the Police Department might have to write tickets to get the message across.
“Education is great, but eventually we’re going to have to enforce,” he said.
He added that it would be a “bummer” if a bear or bears had to be euthanized in Basalt because people didn’t adequately secure their trash, helping to create problem bears.