Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

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July 29, 2014
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Cops say be bear aware in Basalt

Basalt officials are urging residents and businesses to be diligent in securing trash and food sources to avoid the types of conflicts with bears that occurred in Aspen last weekend.

One recent incident in Basalt shows just how determined a bear can be when it smells food. A bear tore a window in a garage off its hinges, crawled in, pushed the trash container out the window, exited the garage then stomped on it until it opened even though it was a bear-resistant model, according to Police Chief Greg Knott. The incident occurred at a residence on Village Court.

The window was partially open at the time of the early-morning visit, Knott said. It’s important that residents know they must keep windows latched so bears aren’t tempted by garbage or food smells, he said.

Basalt has a regulation that requires bear-resistant trash containers. If police officers see a container that doesn’t comply, they leave a note on it asking the owner to address it.

“We do get good compliance,” Knott said.

While bear sightings have picked up in Basalt, there haven’t been conflicts like those reported in Aspen. A bear swiped at a woman who was walking through an alley late at night last weekend in Aspen. The woman suffered minor injuries. Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported that it euthanized two bears in Aspen on Sunday after efforts to get into residences.

The Basalt area also has a lower bear population, according to Perry Will, area wildlife manager. The Aspen area has several drainages that funnel toward the town, creating more potential conflicts between humans and wildlife, he said.

“Aspen is better bear habitat. It just is,” Will said.

No area on the Western Slope has experienced bear issues this summer at the same magnitude as Aspen, according to Will. A bear that had learned to enter homes in Beaver Creek via the second story after climbing trees had to be euthanized last week, he said. No bears have been put down in Basalt. Knott said his officers have come into regular contact with two bears and undertaken tactics to scare them off.

The same bear that broke into the garage on Village Court has been hanging around Swinging Bridge Lane and in the Elk Run neighborhood, Knott said. Another bruin has been regularly spotted on the Hill District off Homestead and Sopris.

One homeowner reported looking out a second-story window and seeing a bear climbing a tree alongside a balcony. The fully stretched bear appeared to exceed 10 feet long as it was climbing, the woman said. She was hoping it would be content in the tree and not want to enter the house.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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