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Beaver Creek bear killed

Cliff Thompson
Vail correspondent

Thursday wildlife officer Bill Andree of Eagle did something he hates doing. He killed a bear by lethal injection.

It was a bear that three times had broken into a home on Fairway Drive in Beaver Creek by going through a window. Andree set up a culvert trap ” a long pipe with a trap door on a trailer” and baited it with molasses, honey, cinnamon and maple syrup. The 3-year-old, 145-pound bear, a female, couldn’t resist and was in the trap early Wednesday night. Thursday, it was dead.

From Andree’s perspective, the bear had to be killed because of human misbehavior and the behavior the bear had learned as a result.

The real problem, Andree said, is that people in Beaver Creek haven’t been as careful with their trash as they should and it’s attracting bears to homes. Curiously, at the home the bear entered, there was no trash outside that might have lured it, he said.

The crop of wild nuts and berries the bears eat has been poor this summer and the animals have been forced to change their foraging habits. Human garbage receptacles have plenty of food to suit a hungry bear’s appetite.

Compounding the problem is the fact Beaver Creek has no laws restricting where and how residents store their trash, Andree said. In Vail, for instance, residents can only put their trash outside on the day it’s picked up and only from about sunrise to sunset.

The bear problems in Beaver Creek have persisted for the last few years, Andree said.

“Bears have been getting into trash around the village, its hotels and restaurants and service center compactors,” he said. “Beaver Creek needs to step up to the plate and get bear-proof containers.”

There are bear-proof trash containers in all national parks, he said.

“It’s ridiculous that we can’t get it done in Eagle County,” he said.

Bob McIlveen, who handles special projects for Vail Resorts in Beaver Creek, said the ski company and homeowner’s association are preparing just such an ordinance.

“It’s a sad deal,” he said of the killing of the bear. “It takes time to educate everyone. It’s a slow process.”

Andree said he expects to experience more bear problems in Beaver Creek, where he estimates up to eight bears are foraging from the many Dumpsters in the area.

“It didn’t have to happen,” Andree said. “Bears born four years ago learned from their mammas, who taught them how to forage in Dumpsters and they’ve done it every year since then. We’ve got to learn we moved into their back yards.”


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