Popcorn Bandit gets bum’s rush | AspenTimes.com

Popcorn Bandit gets bum’s rush

Scott Condon
With a large crowd watching, DOW district wildlife manager Kelly Wood tags the ear of a 400+ pound black bear as it lies unconscience on East Hyman Avenue in front of the Prospector Condominiums Saturday afternoon September 25, 2004. The bruin raided a storage unit of the Popcorn Wagon and ate ten pounds of cocoa mix making him sich and lethargic where he found shelter in a stairwell of the condominiums. After repeated attempts in dislodging the beast with bean bags, the Aspen police called the DOW to help in the dilemma. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

The Popcorn Bandit – a bear that’s made a habit of breaking into the Popcorn Wagon this summer – is apparently safe but sorry after getting the bum’s rush out of Aspen Saturday.The bear, which state wildlife officers suspect was addicted to the smell of popcorn, was tranquilized Saturday morning, hauled to a trap, then shipped off to a drainage far, far away from Aspen, said Todd Malmsbury, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The bear had broken into the Popcorn Wagon across from the Wheeler Opera House and gulped down two 5-pound bags of cocoa Saturday morning, Malmsbury said. It walked off to a nearby stairwell to apparently sleep off the effects of the sweets, he said.The same bear is suspected of raiding the wagon for food numerous times in the past couple of months.Aspen officers and wildlife officers attempted to scare the bear out of the stairwell. It bluffed charges and didn’t want to leave so the decision was made to tranquilize it, Malmsbury said.

The procedure was no simple matter. It took a couple of shots to bring down the bear, which was estimated to weigh in excess of 400 pounds, Malmsbury said. The officers then carried it to a trap and wildlife officers shipped it away.A witness estimated that 100 spectators gathered to watch the process, which started at about 10:30 a.m.

Malmsbury said the drainage where the bear was deposited has lots of natural vegetation, so the DOW hopes it will stay there to fatten up for hibernation.The Popcorn Bandit was eligible for relocation because there was no evidence it had broken into homes, Malmsbury said. Other bears have been killed by wildlife officers after they invaded houses and were deemed a potential threat to humans.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com