Bears awake from hibernation | AspenTimes.com
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Bears awake from hibernation

Kimberly Nicoletti

Two black bears and a baby bear reportedly have come out of hibernation and are roaming around Aspen.Late last week at Aspen Mountain, guests reported seeing a bear in Bingo Slot headed toward Bingo Glades. Ski patrol looked for it but did not find it. The state Division of Wildlife also received calls about the bear.For the past two weeks, the DOW has taken calls about another large bear roaming near Cemetery Lane. DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said the distance between Aspen Mountain and Cemetery Lane is far enough to indicate two bears have come out of hibernation. And on Tuesday two people called the Forest Service about a baby bear foraging for food at the Marolt Open Space, said Matt Sandate of the Forest Service. The bear didn’t seem spooked by dogs or people.Though it’s uncommon for bears to come out of hibernation in the middle of winter – especially a cool, snowy one like this year – it happens occasionally. Last winter, one came out in Silverthorne. Three have dens at Steamboat Ski Resort, and at times avalanche control awakens them, Hampton said.Hampton and Sandate don’t think warmer temperatures or hunger brought the bears out; it’s more likely disturbances awoke them. Sometimes bears don’t find a den early enough and end up in inappropriate hideouts, such as under a tree or shrub that may be too close to a road. Other times, avalanche control work can disturb them.Generally, bears return to hibernation within several days, Hampton said.”Biology’s going to win out, and they’ll go back to where they’re denning,” he said. “But [seeing them] surprises people because the expectation is, ‘You should be sleeping.'”The DOW and Forest Service try to let nature take its course and avoid interfering, because when humans get involved, the bears’ survival rate decreases, he said.Kimberly Nicoletti’s e-mail address is knicoletti@aspentimes.com


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