Aspen sees quiet bear season so far

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – It has been a relatively quiet summer for bear activity in Aspen – so far.

If things are going to pick up, though, August is the time, noted Dan Glidden, wildlife enforcement officer for the Aspen Police Department.

So far, just six citations have been issued, along with 10 warnings, for trash violations under the city’s new, stiffer regulations. The city now requires bear-resistant trash containers and does not allow those containers to be placed outside until the day of scheduled trash pickup.

Only bear-proof containers, typically constructed as enclosures, are exempt from the pickup-day rule.

“The majority of people have complied or are trying,” Glidden said.

Those who don’t have a bear-resistant container are beginning to get citations rather than warnings, he added. A first offense carries a $250 fine.

No one has yet received a second-offense citation, which carries a $500 fine, or a third-offense ticket, which carries a $999 fine and a mandatory court appearance, Glidden said Wednesday.

The police department has recorded three incidents of bears in homes so far this summer, along with nine reports of bears in trash.

By late summer of 2009, bear calls were a daily, if not hourly, occurrence, and Colorado Division of Wildlife officers racked up overtime hours dealing with the problems. Thirty-five bears were transplanted and another 20 were euthanized last summer, which may be a factor in this season’s relative calm, Glidden theorized.

“We have 55 fewer bears,” he said.

The DOW has set a few traps this year, but Glidden said he wasn’t aware of any euthanized bears yet this year. The local DOW officer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The total number of police department responses to a bear-related issue in July was 97, compared to 138 for the same month last year, but record-keeping has changed at the department, so direct comparisons are difficult, said spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro.

This year, the department is keeping track of all bear calls, including educational contacts when Glidden or another officer explains the laws to someone.

“It gives us a better picture of what we’re doing and how much time we’re spending on this problem,” she said.

Total bear complaints so far this year number 290, compared to 713 last year, according to the department.


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