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Bear traps set at Aspen Village

Janet Urquhart

State wildlife officials set traps Tuesday in Aspen Village in response to unprecedented bear activity in the neighborhood.It’s likely that some of the marauding animals will ultimately be killed, a local wildlife officer predicted.Meanwhile, Pitkin County commissioners agreed yesterday with a plan to eliminate the use of “poly cart” trash containers at the village, where as many as 10 bears are foraging daily for garbage, according to Jonathan Lowsky, county wildlife biologist.”They’re just being absolutely brazen. There is a concern, frankly, about human safety,” he said.The county will enforce its wildlife ordinance at Aspen Village. It requires the bear-resistant poly carts to be replaced with bear-proof containers if they’re not working.Several bear-proof trash bins will be placed at Aspen Village within the next week, and the individual, 90-gallon carts will be retired from use – permanently, if wildlife officials have any say in the matter. Ultimately, it’s up to the 150 homeowners there to decide what system of bear-proof trash collection they want to purchase for the neighborhood.”The 90-gallon poly cart has failed across the entire county,” Lowsky said. “They’re not bear resistant. Bears are looking for them. They’re little picnic boxes.”Kevin Wright, wildlife officer with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, urged the commissioners to ban the use of poly carts throughout the county, or at least bear hot spots like Aspen Village, the McSkimming Road neighborhood and Starwood.Bear activity throughout the valley this summer has hit “an absolute all-time high,” according to Lowsky. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”Reports of bears breaking into vehicles, busting through locked doors into homes and smashing glass are commonplace. Bears are wandering around in broad daylight.Wright said two traps are being set at Aspen Village in an attempt to reduce the bear population there, which includes sows and several cubs. Trapped bears will be relocated, but they are likely to get into trouble again, in which case they’ll be destroyed.”These bears will probably die,” he said.If the DOW doesn’t act, residents may take matters into their own hands.”It’s getting to the point now where we are getting anonymous phone calls saying they are going to start killing bears,” Wright said.Aspen Village is located near the Pitkin County landfill, just upvalley from Snowmass Canyon. The landfill is also a draw for bears; several of the animals can be found there on a typical evening, said Chris Hoofnagle, solid waste manager at the landfill and an Aspen Village resident.Landfill staffers have only shot rubber pellets once this summer to drive away a bear, but Wright has urged landfill personnel to leave the bears alone in the landfill, reasoning it’s better to have the animals there than in Aspen Village.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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