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Open doors bring unwanted visitors

Aspen Times Staff Report

Be careful what doors you leave open, and what you leave lying around. You might unknowingly be inviting unwanted guests.

Bears are once again out and about. Incidents involving bears have already occurred in the Aspen area this spring, said Kevin Wright, the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Aspen district wildlife manager.

Over the weekend, bears forced their way into a West Buttermilk residence and made a thorough mess of the kitchen. Wright said he was called to the address after a mother bear and two yearling cubs pushed through a patio door screen and found their way into the home’s kitchen.

The most severe damage was to the screen door, Wright said, but the visitors made a major mess of the kitchen. They spread garbage around, got into some dog food, and defecated on the floor, he said, before they were routed by Pitkin County deputies.

Also this spring, bear incidents have been reported in Aspen’s West End and in the Owl Creek Valley, and a bear has been spotted at Hallam Lake, Wright said.

Precautions need to be taken everywhere in bear country. Although people see notices in the paper, he said, they’re likely to think it can’t happen to them. But bears are opportunists.

“If they can find an easy food source, they’re going to take it,” Wright said.

Bears have an excellent sense of smell, and will be attracted to even such seemingly insignificant food sources as hummingbird feeders. And at this time of year, when bears have just awakened from hibernation, they are hungry.

Area residents need to make sure their doors and windows are closed tightly at night, Wright advised. Birdfeeders, hummingbird feeders and pet food should not be left outside, especially in the spring. Food residue on barbecue grills can also attract bears.

“It comes down to good food management and good trash management,” Wright said.

The Division of Wildlife will have a display as part of Aspen’s Earth Day and Arbor Day Celebration on May 13 at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wright said. The booth will have bear information geared for both adults and children.


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