Bear sow killed in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Bear sow killed in Basalt

BASALT – A bear sow was killed in Basalt on Friday, and her two cubs were taken to a rehabilitation center by state wildlife officers, according to Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.

Basalt is experiencing more conflicts between humans and bears than usual this summer, but the number of problems pales in comparison to the challenges in Aspen, Hampton said. In fact, the conflicts in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs combined are fewer than the number of issues in Aspen. Four bears had been killed by wildlife officers in Aspen so far this summer as of Monday.

In Basalt, two sows each with two cubs have roamed town for the last month or so. One set was captured Aug. 18 and relocated in hope that they wouldn’t return to civilization.

The second sow had a record as a “nuisance” bear, Hampton said. She was relocated out of the Glenwood Springs area earlier this decade, returned and removed again. She popped into the Basalt area in 2008. This year there were multiple reports of the sow getting into trash. It isn’t believed that she forced her way into any homes, but was rummaging around houses and peering inside, he said.

The bear was distinctive because she had a red tag in each ear signifying a prior conflict with humans. The bear was in a tree in the yard of a house on Cottonwood Drive on Friday. Although there was no problem at that particular time, a wildlife officer decided he needed to intervene in hopes that the cubs hadn’t been habituated to raiding garbage for food, Hampton said. Some onlookers objected, with one man yelling obscenities at the wildlife officer and a Basalt officer. The man complied when he was ordered from the area, according to Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda.

The adult bear was tranquilized, removed and later killed. The cubs were taken to a rehabilitation center in the region. They are being fed natural foods, with no visual contact with the humans providing the food. The hope is they will rely on natural food sources, rather than garbage, when they are released.

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“There’s a chance,” Hampton said of the bears remaining in the wild and avoiding contact with humans. “We want to give them every opportunity.”

He said too many people have a “Disney World” view of bears. They believe that when bears are relocated and released deep in the woods, they stay there. Experience shows that’s not always the case.

scondon@aspentimes.com