Keep a lookout for hungry bears | PostIndependent.com

Keep a lookout for hungry bears

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Watch out, the bears are back in town.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife captured an approximately 300-pound bear overnight Thursday in a live trap that had been set on Garfield Avenue at the base of Lookout Mountain on the east end of Glenwood Springs.

It’s a sure sign that bear season has started, and serves as a reminder that residents need to be aware about leaving trash and other tasty bear treats outside overnight, said DOW district manager Dan Cacho.

He stopped by the Post Independent office Friday morning with the bear in tow, still inside the live trap made of heavy steel mesh.

“We’ve been starting to have problems with bears rolling trash cans around at night, especially in that part of town,” Cacho said.

On first glance, Cacho said the bear is probably a 5-year-old male. It’s actually a smaller bear than the one they had hoped to capture.

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Cacho advised that there’s still another bear about twice as big that has been seen roaming the neighborhood.

Additional traps have also been set along Pitkin Avenue above the Roaring Fork Rivertrail, and in West Glenwood, he said.

The captured bear was to be taken to the local DOW office to be tranquilized and tagged before being released somewhere near Meeker.

“This is what happens when people leave their trash out,” Cacho said. “This is unacceptable. This bear now has a strike against him, and if he gets caught in trouble again he will be put down.”

With the recent heavy spring snows, bears that are just awakening from their winter hibernation are being pushed into lower elevations to find food, he said. The late spring snowstorms have further limited their foraging range, pushing them to lower elevations until hot weather returns.

The bear caught yesterday appeared to be bigger than it should be this early in the season, Cacho said, indicating it either went into hibernation fatter than usual, or it has already been out rummaging quite a bit this spring.

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said no tickets have been issued yet this spring for trash violations, but that may be about to change.

City codes require that trash cannot be kept outside until after 6 a.m. on trash pickup day, unless residents are using a certified wildlife resistant container.

A first violation of the trash ordinance will warrant a written warning, Wilson said. A second offense means a $500 fine.

“We really would like to avoid all of that, and have people take part in keeping their trash in until the day of pickup,” Wilson said. “We will be starting to become very vigilant about that, and contacting folks as needed to prevent it from being a bigger problem.”

Cacho also advised that if people observe a bear in one of the DOW traps before officials arrive, they should keep their distance.

“People need to just leave them alone,” he said.

jstroud@postindependent.com