Humans part of problem for ‘problem’ bears
Here are two comments from local public officials, both printed in The Aspen Times within the last week:”I can’t emphasize enough for people to lock their car doors, have their windows rolled up tightly right now.” (He added that the same goes with home windows and doors.)”The number of conflicts isn’t going down. It’s going up.”Fortunately, these officials weren’t cops and they weren’t referring to a rash of burglaries or assaults around Aspen. They were wildlife officers and they were referring to our resident population of black bears.The bears are wide awake and hungry again. And though we don’t expect a repeat of summer 2004, when a lack of natural food sources sent dozens of bears into towns throughout the Roaring Fork Valley in search of human scraps, there have already been a number of incidents. This Thursday, the police scanner in the Times office crackled with a report of a “monster bear” busting its way into a bear-proof Dumpster.Since most Aspenites are wildlife lovers, it’s worth reminding everyone that so-called problem bears usually end up dead. In fact, Colorado’s “two strikes” policy calls for officers to release bears the first time they capture them after an incident, and to kill them the second time.Three bears were killed locally in 2005. During 2004, 15 bears were either killed deliberately or by automobiles. Since most black bears don’t read law books, the “two strikes” policy places responsibility squarely in our laps – to dispose carefully of our trash and to eliminate other potential food sources that might attract the bruins. Only then will they learn to rely on the berries and brush that should naturally sustain them here in the Rocky Mountains.A few pointers to help keep the bears out of town and thus, hopefully, alive: Do not leave trash around homes, businesses or campsites. Leave it inside behind locked windows and doors. Take trash out on pickup day, and not the night before. Feed pets indoors and store their food indoors. Reconsider hanging hummingbird feeders filled with sweet liquids, which attract bears. Clean barbecue grills, and burn or dispose of all barbecue scraps.
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