State wildlife officer says Aspen-area bear troubles are avoidable
August 2, 2011
ASPEN – The number of cases of bears breaking into Aspen-area homes has spiked since Thursday, at least in part because of homeowners not following wildlife-friendly practices, the district wildlife manager for the upper valley said Monday.
Kevin Wright of the Colorado Division of Wildlife said he spent all weekend answering calls about bear encounters. He is using all five traps at his disposal to try to capture bears that have been too aggressive about getting into homes.
“I could probably use another five,” he said.
Two bears have been euthanized in the Aspen area so far this year, Wright said. If some of the other bears are successfully trapped, they will be euthanized for aggressive behavior as well, he said. Wildlife officers killed no bears last summer after putting down a record number in 2009.
The bear entries have been primarily in neighborhoods on the fringe of town, such as Castle Creek Road and Meadowood. A handful of cases have been in Aspen.
“Activity has just skyrocketed,” Wright said. “A lot of it is people leaving windows open.
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“There are a lot of people not heeding our advice,” Wright added.
Part of that advice is to close and lock windows when no one is at home during days and during all nights, according to Wright. If they are open even a crack, a bear can slip in a claw and rip it open, he said.
In some cases in the last few days, bears have torn through locked windows, Wright said. The more aggressive bears are being targeted with the traps. Wright said he was unaware of bears being aggressive with people in the last few days.
For tips on how to decrease the chances for a bear visits, go to http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Departments/Police/Aspen-Bears/Living-with-Bears/.
Wright said he is at a loss to explain the spike in bear activity in Aspen-area homes. The outlook for natural food supplies for bears is mixed. There will be a bumper acorn crop, but that won’t be until later in the year. The choke cherry crop looks good, service berries are not.
Wright, a longtime wildlife officer in the Roaring Fork Valley, is also perplexed about the behavior of some humans. He finds it difficult to believe homeowners or renters haven’t heard about the potential for bear problems in the Aspen area.
“I guess people aren’t paying attention,” he said.