Mama bear and her three cubs spend the night at Snowmass Center

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
A mama bear and her three large cubs were found sleeping inside a hallway on the second floor of the Snowmass Center early Thursday morning. The bears were stuck inside the center upon entering through the automatic doors.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

A mama bear and three large cubs had a little Hump Day sleepover at the Snowmass Center this week.

Foraging any last sustenance before hibernating, the bears entered the center via the automatic doors late Wednesday but were unable to exit the building, Snowmass animal services officer Laurie Smith said Friday.

“It seems like they were mostly in the hallways,” Smith said, “where they weren’t able to attain any food.”

After an unsuccessful center-wide search, the bear clan cozied up on the second floor and called it a night.

They remained in a hallway slumber until about 5 a.m., when a clerk at Clark’s Market arrived for work.

The Clark’s employee called the dispatch, which sent an officer from the town and Pitkin County. The two were able to escort the bear family out of the Snowmass Center before the rush of 7 a.m. workers and customers, Smith said.

Inside the building, the bears left some scat during their visit but did not do any damage, according to the police report. There was not a surveillance video that captured the bears breaking and entering.

Smith said the Clark’s employee noticed the scat upon entering the center and consequently was less startled than she may have been otherwise.

The incident should serve as a reminder to local residents that despite the recent snowfalls, bears are still actively scavenging, Smith said.

She added that the number of acorns around the village is “minimal” because of recent droughts, which means the bears may be even hungrier than usual.

A sow and her cubs typically begin hibernating around the end of October; however, because other bears may hole up later, Smith said it is best to assume that most are in hibernation mode by Thanksgiving time.

Until then, Smith advised the community to continue locking doors to cars, homes and garages.

“Right now, bears are trying to capitalize on any last calories to help them get though the winter,” Smith said, “and they’re getting to the finish line.”


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