Police: Stay ‘bear aware’ | AspenTimes.com

Police: Stay ‘bear aware’

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The bears are back, at least for the next few weeks.

Though it has been a relatively quiet year compared with the rash of bear break-ins and nuisance bears euthanized in the summer of 2007, law enforcement and wildlife officials warn that bear activity is on the rise.

And the Aspen Police Department has launched a “bear aware” campaign to get the word out.

A wet winter meant plenty of natural food for bears coming out of hibernation, and Division of Wildlife officials have only been forced to move a few animals and have not had to euthanize any, said Jason Anderson, Aspen’s wildlife enforcement officer.

The next few weeks could prove challenging. Grasses that make up the diet of local

bears are drying up, and berries that are important late summer bear fare haven’t sprung up yet, Anderson said.

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“There’s more bear activity,” he said.

Anderson has handed out a few warnings to people whose trash containers are not bear-proof, and said a first offense is $250, a second offense $500 and a third $1,000.

Anderson said most Aspenites, however, are doing a good job of keeping trash containers secure, but said they should remain vigilant.

“Chances are we’re going to see a rise in interactions,” said Stephanie Dasaro,

community relations specialist with the police department.

Dasaro congratulated Aspenites doing the right thing by securing Dumpsters, saying, “It’s amazing and it’s how it should be. But it has to continue.”

Dasaro is spearheading the “bear aware” campaign, and asks anyone with non-emergency issues to call 429-1768 or learn more about the campaign at http://www.aspenbears.com.

The police department has placed a life-sized cardboard cutout of a bear in front of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and chamber staff have more information for visitors.

And the police officers are asking Aspenites to name the bear by making suggestions at the website. The person who submits the winning name will win a prize.

cagar@aspentimes.com

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