Letter: Let’s save the bears
The retirement of Kevin Wright from Colorado Parks and Wildlife as the longtime district wildlife manager (Aspen and Carbondale) is a tremendous loss for our community and our wildlife. His job has been very difficult in so many ways, yet Kevin has handled it with great expertise, compassion and a real love for his career and the wildlife, especially the bears, which he has struggled to protect in spite of many human obstacles. Imagine if you were the one who had to euthanize them.
Regarding the long-standing “human problem” our community has had with bears, we should not wait any longer to demand that our local leaders finally put teeth into their enforcement policies. The city of Aspen has assigned only one hardworking officer to deal with bear problems, but he only works three days a week. Community safety officers also can check on violations but, during high season, they often don’t have time to help. More personnel are needed to enforce the ordinance, actively patrolling for violations and issuing tickets, not just simple warnings. Warnings do not solve the problem. We need heavy fines to have a far greater impact. Aspen continues to have serious trash violation problems with all kinds of inadequate containers, especially restaurant and construction dumpsters. Even the city’s own trash containers have not been bear-proof after several years of Kevin’s recommendations to fix them. It seems that they will finally replace them this year. For apparently aesthetic reasons, the city also continues to keep fruit-bearing trees that attract the bears when they have been told that there are non-toxic solutions to get rid of the fruit and still maintain the flowers.
The time is long past due to deal with this very human problem and our government’s lack of enforcement to solve it. Now would be the appropriate time to act in honor of Kevin’s legacy. I urge everyone in our community to express their feelings and support of Kevin by calling or emailing our community leaders.
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