Snowmass Villagers also grin and bear it | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass Villagers also grin and bear it

John Colson

While Aspen is having its share of problems with bears, Snowmass Village may be having even more.”We’ve been getting beat up pretty bad,” said Snowmass Police Officer Brian Olson on Sunday. He said the village has had 20 incidents of bears breaking into homes in the past week.The cases have been concentrated in the Wood Road and Faraway Road area, just below the lower slopes of Snowmass Ski Area, although some bears have been causing trouble in the Horse Ranch area, as well.So far, Olson said, the bears have not been directly confronted by people living in the houses. But on a couple of occasions the residents have heard the bears and gone to investigate.”As soon as they hear a noise, they scoot.” He said few of the residents who have reported bear invasions have actually seen the bruin in question.Olson’s advice to homeowners is to keep all windows and doors locked when the occupants are not at home. And even when people are at home, he said, doors should be at least securely closed, as should ground-floor windows. Especially easy for bears are doors with “French handles,” which are simply a horizontal lever.”We don’t know of any round, regular door handles that the bears have been successful with,” Olson said.He added that bears have become adept at recognizing the lever handles and opening them, but if they are locked bears will often simply move on to a different house: “They’re not working the door with a vengeance.”Even though this is not normally the time of year when bears become a nuisance, Olson said, “Everyone in the entire village needs to be vigilant.” He said the goal is to wean the bears off human food and direct them back toward their natural grub as soon as possible.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com