Bear gets booted from Ruedi area
July 24, 2002
A bear that was poking around tents and breaking into campers at four Ruedi Reservoir campgrounds was trapped and removed last weekend by wildlife officers.
The bear’s capture and removal to a remote part of the mountains allowed the U.S. Forest Service to reopen the four campgrounds to tents and pop-top campers, according Sopris District Ranger Bill Westbrook.
The Little Mattie, Mollie B., Little Maud and the Ruedi Marina campgrounds were closed two weeks ago to everything except hard-sided campers because the same bear kept returning for food.
A female estimated to be between 5 and 7 years of age ripped into two tents and broke into a camper and its refrigerator, as well as a boat cooler, looking for food. No one was injured, but Colorado Division of Wildlife officers were unable to scare the bear away. It was shot with rubber bullets once, and pepper spray was used repeatedly as a deterrent, Westbrook said.
Wildlife officers decided moving the bear would be best when the efforts to scare it away failed. It wasn’t nursing, so her capture and removal won’t place any cubs in jeopardy, according to Westbrook.
The bear was tagged and transplanted to a different part of the state. Under the wildlife division’s rules, a tagged bear has one strike against it. If it is involved in another encounter with humans, officers would use multiple methods of “aversion therapy” to chase it away, said wildlife division spokesman Todd Malmsbury.
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Only as a last resort would the bear be trapped again and killed, he said.
“We’re not trapping bears nearly as much as we used to,” said Malmsbury. The division is more picky about when and why it traps bears, he explained.
So far this summer, the wildlife division is reporting fewer problems with human-bear encounters than in other recent years. Westbrook said he was unaware of bear problems in campgrounds other than those near Ruedi.
Nevertheless, campers are being directed to be extremely careful with food – keeping a clean camp and storing all food in locked cars with windows closed.
The drought has reduced berry crops, and spotty patches of oak brush and their acorn crops were hit by a May frost. Malmsbury said natural food supplies could be salvaged if it starts raining. If not, bears will roam towns and rural homes looking for alternative food, according to experts.
“As natural food supplies for bears continue to diminish, it may be necessary to impose restrictions again this summer,” Westbrook said of the campground situation.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org