Aspen bears are back | AspenTimes.com

Aspen bears are back

A bear gets into trash on Waters Avenue in early June.

After a relatively quiet summer, the bears are back.

Aspen police have been averaging two or three bear calls a day for the past couple of weeks, according to a police spokeswoman. And the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office has received 12 bear calls this month so far, said Charles Matthews, records manager.

"Every fall we see an uptick (in bear calls)," said Blair Flickinger, city police spokeswoman. "It's the time of year bears are ready to hibernate."

Perry Will, an area supervisor for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said bear activity around Aspen has definitely picked up in the past three weeks, though he hasn't seen a similar pattern in the Eagle Valley. There were generally enough natural food sources to sustain the bears over the summer, but they're gone now with the exception of acorns, he said.

"Now they switch back to the easy pickings," Will said. "They know (food) is there, and they're going to take full advantage of it."

Flickinger said some of the calls in the city have involved bears trying to get into trash cans or dumpsters.

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"It's the same old thing," Will said. "Secure your trash."

The Parks and Wildlife Department first relocates problem bears and tags them, but if they show up again, they are euthanized immediately, said Mike Porras, a department spokesman.

So far this year in the region that includes Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley, parks and wildlife officials have relocated one bear each in May, June and July, but none since then, Porras said. They euthanized one bear in May, two in June, five in July and one in September, he said.

None have been euthanized in October, Will said.

"That tells me it has not been a significantly busy year," Porras said.

Beginning last month, bears are in search of between 5,000 and 20,000 calories a day in order to fatten up for winter hibernation, he said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com