Lee: The hard work of co-existence | AspenTimes.com

Lee: The hard work of co-existence

On Aug. 21, a sow and her four cubs were killed for entering a home near Aspen. Could this have been prevented? 

More than 100 bears are euthanized each year in Colorado. Bears are killed after showing aggressive or repeated “nuisance” behavior. Nuisance behavior typically means that the bear is regularly seen in town getting into trash or other food sources. A bear displaying nuisance behavior may be relocated and, if handled again, killed.

An aggressive bear is typically a bear that has entered a home or injured a person or damaged property. An aggressive bear is immediately killed. These actions reflect Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) policy and are aimed to protect human life and safety. 

While this policy may seem cruel, what is truly cruel is that despite having the tools to address the cause of the problem, cities and counties continue to rely on CPW officers to respond to crises. The system failed many steps before this bear family ever entered the home. 

Bears are in town or near homes because they are hungry. While some may move through an area as they search for new territory, if they do not find sufficient habitat (water, food, shelter) they will move on. Essentially, if we create welcoming bear habitat, the bears will come and without negative consequences, they will stay. 

We in the Colorado Bear Coalition choose to work toward a long term solution — to move us toward co-existence that requires responsible prevention of crises. This means that citizens need to remove attractants such as bird feeders (hummingbird feeders included), secure their trash, harvest their fruit, and increase the use of electric fencing around livestock and apiaries. 

For more information on how you can receive support, volunteer or make a donation, go to http://www.coloradobearcoalition.org.

Brenda Lee


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