10 bears killed so far by local wildlife officials | AspenTimes.com

10 bears killed so far by local wildlife officials

Scott Condon

More bears have been killed this summer by game wardens in the Roaring Fork Valley than any other place in the state, but the Colorado Division of Wildlife insists it’s because there have been more problems here.The wildlife division has been criticized by a group of angry Redstone residents who want the agency’s policies scrutinized. The group has asked Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis to investigate the wildlife manager for the Carbondale and Redstone areas on allegations of cruelty to animals.In addition, the group is seeking an injunction to prevent wildlife officers from killing any more bears this year in the region that includes the Roaring Fork, Crystal and Fryingpan valleys.Two organizers of the group, Cheryl Haddock and Lauren Taylor, accused the wildlife officers of taking an overzealous approach to dealing with bears. As part of their effort to seek an injunction, they are researching whether more bears have been killed in the Roaring Fork drainage.Wildlife division spokesman Todd Malmsbury said more bears have been killed in the Roaring Fork Valley, but not due to different practices by the officers. He said 19 bears have been killed this summer – 10 by wildlife officers. Two other bears were shot and killed by private landowners and seven bruins were killed after being struck by vehicles.The valley has provided the biggest challenge in the state this year due to a late frost that killed much of the acorn and berry crops, the primary foods for bears trying to put on weight for hibernation.The lack of natural food drove bears into Aspen, Redstone, Basalt, Glenwood Springs and other residential areas to find alternatives sources this summer.Other areas such as Summit County, Grand Junction and the northern and southern Front Range have also experienced a high number of bear incidents, but none on the level of the Roaring Fork Valley, according to Malmsbury.He was unable to provide figures Friday for how many bears were killed in other parts of the state. However, he said he knew of four examples where bears have been killed for breaking into homes. Those incidents have occurred in the Westcliffe, Monte Vista, Durango and Rangely areas.Malmsbury said a wildlife division directive has been in place for a decade to dictate how to deal with problem bears. The directive sets the “two-strike” policy that states wildlife officers will tag bears that undertake some activity like raiding trash but not posing a threat to people. If a tagged bear creates a second nuisance, it will be shot.That directive also gives wildlife officers the discretion to kill bears without the tagging step if they are judged to be a safety threat.If the bear is dangerous because it poses an immediate threat to human safety, destroy and necropsy the bear, the directive simply states.The wildlife division considers it a human threat when bears break into homes, Malmsbury said.The Redstone group contends two bears were shot by wildlife officers there that posed no serious threat to humans. The wildlife division countered that both animals had broken into homes more than once during the summer.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com