Bears awake, making mischief in Aspen |

Bears awake, making mischief in Aspen

Charles Agar
Aspen Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Black bears are lumbering out of their winter slumber and right back into the same trouble they found last year.

In the early morning hours Thursday, an unknown driver struck and killed a bear in Snowmass Canyon, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

And on Wednesday a bear broke through a glass door in a Mountain Valley home, east of Aspen.

“It’s time for people to start getting very vigilant because the bears are coming out,” said Kevin Wright, wildlife manager for the Aspen district of the DOW.

The bear hit by the car was a 4-year-old male tha weighed about 200 pounds, said John Groves, district wildlife manager. Groves believes the bear had been looking for food at the Pitkin County landfill.

“They’re starting to come out of hibernation, and there’s not much forage for them out there,” Groves said.

It’s too early to predict another rough year for area bears, Groves said, but thick snows covering spring forage could mean lots of hungry bears until early summer at least.

For the time being, bears are stuck with whatever grasses are sprouting in open areas, as well as bugs and, unfortunately, garbage and food from humans.

Wildlife officers set a trap near the Mountain Valley home where a bear broke in at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Groves said.

“The door was locked, and [the bear] just kept working it until it popped,” Groves said.

People were in the home and scared the bear out the same way the animal entered, Groves said.

The Division of Wildlife has a two-strike policy, but aggressive bears that smash their way into homes are killed, Groves said.

“It’s already breaking into a house,” Groves said. “It’s probably been habituated from last year and is just picking up where it left off.”

If wildlife officers catch the bear, Groves has not yet determined whether it would be killed.

“Aspen needs to wake up really fast right now because bears are out and about,” Wright said.

A recent walk through the East End of Aspen was disconcerting, Wright said.

“Everything was wide open,” Wright said, and even proper bear-proof containers were simply left unlatched.

“There’s no reason for [people in] Aspen to be behaving the way they are,” Wright said. “People really need to start buckling things down immediately.”

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