Officials fear one bear of a summer |

Officials fear one bear of a summer

Tim Mutrie

Black bears are pillaging dumpsters, homes and other unsecured human food sources all over the upper Roaring Fork Valley.

And wildlife officials fear that conflicts between man and beast may get worse before they get better this summer.

“Lately, I’ve been busier with bear calls than I’ve ever been,” said Kevin Wright, Aspen District Wildlife Manager for the Division of Wildlife. “And it’s not just in one area, it’s all over – Castle Creek, Maroon Creek, Buttermilk, West Buttermilk, McLain Flats, the [Airport Business Center], Conundrum Creek, and all around Snowmass Village and Aspen too.”

A small yearling bear that habitually raided dumpsters and other food sources in the Cemetery Lane area was relocated earlier this week after it pushed in first-floor screens to gain access into area homes, Wright said. he shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart, and moved it away from town, he said.

“People need to keep first-floor windows and doors securely closed,” he said, “because a hungry bear will get in.”

Wright suspects the bear he relocated is the sister of another yearling that had been living in the vicinity of the Airport Business Center for several weeks. After weeks of feeding out of dumpsters at the ABC and breaking into at least one business in search of food, the bear has apparently been relocated to the McLain Flats area. The bear’s habits have apparently not changed, forcing Wright to set a trap for it, in hopes of relocating it.

Wright speculated that bears’ mother died. Normally, she would remain with her offspring through their second year, he said.

Wright stressed that when bears and humans share living space, conflicts can be minimized if humans are conscientious about their trash.

“It’s a trash problem, a people problem – I don’t think it’s a bear problem,” he said last week. “If the food sources weren’t there, the bears would simply go away to forage for natural foods.”

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