The problems that Aspen experiences with conflicts between humans and bears could spread to Basalt to a greater degree than usual this year, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“It could be a rough fall,” said District Wildlife Manager Mike Yamashita.
He and Basalt police officers calculated from the calls they have received that there are eight or nine bears, including a sow with cubs, that are getting into garbage and other human food sources in Basalt. Even if the natural food crops turn out being bountiful this fall, those bears are likely to continue seeking human food sources, according to Yamashita.
“They’ve learned the easy way out,” he said. “They’re not going to leave town.”
It is still far from certain that natural food supplies will be in good shape. Despite the abundant snow last winter and the timely monsoonal flow of rain this summer, it’s a mixed front with chokecherries and serviceberries, two staples of the diet of bruins. A late frost killed the natural food in many spots around the Roaring Fork Valley, Yamishita said.
Wildlife officers have said in recent interviews that it is too soon to tell if scrub oak will produce acorns, another favorite food of bears as they prepare for hibernation.
Basalt has experienced bear problems in the past, but not on the same scale as Aspen. Wildlife officers said that’s simply a product of habitat. Aspen is prime bear habitat, so more bears enter the town seeking food.
A Basalt Police department blotter of recent actions said that bears calls have been frequent in the Hillside District, Elk Run and near the elementary school. Officers are searching for trash container violations.
“They’ve learned the easy way out. They’re not going to leave town.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife