Carbondale becoming more bear aware |

Carbondale becoming more bear aware

Photo courtesy Kathryn Camp

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Though still not as frequented by bears as Aspen and Glenwood Springs, Carbondale has had its share of bears roaming town recently as the animals enter their pre-hibernation feeding frenzy.

“They’re doing nothing but eating right now, trying to put down 20,000 to 30,000 calories a day,” Colorado Division of Wildlife Area Manager John Groves told the Carbondale Board of Trustees Tuesday night.

“They’re looking for any meal they can find to put on the weight they need for the winter,” he said.

That can include anything from fruit trees, berry bushes and garden vegetables, to raiding garbage from unsecured containers, pet food and barbecue grill drippings, Groves said.

“It’s not as bad here as in Aspen where you have bears breaking through people’s doors, but we are seeing bears with more regularity in Carbondale,” he said.

Groves said he was out around 2:30 a.m. on a recent Carbondale morning trying shoo bears out of town.

A mother bear and its yearling cub have also been frequenting the east end of town, and had a gathering of onlookers last week when they were discovered up a spruce tree one evening.

With the presence of bears in town comes the standard DOW suggestions for human inhabitants to keep their trash inside until trash day, or otherwise use bear-proof containers.

Pet food should also not be left outside, and it’s wise to make sure food is not left out on the kitchen counter near an open window where bears can get a whiff and be tempted to break into a house.

“Garbage is the big one,” Groves said. “Once bears get used to an easy source, the cycle keeps going and then we have problem bears.”

Carbondale trustees may revisit the town’s trash ordinance and consider some bear protections.

“I think we at least need to be talking about bear proof trash cans and Dumpsters,” Trustee Frosty Merriott, an outspoken wildlife activist, said.

Currently, the town allows people to put their trash out the night before the regular weekly pick-up. That may need to change, Merriott said.

Meanwhile, if someone comes across a bear or bears around town, “give them space, talk to them and try to look big,” Groves said.

“We would also discourage crowds from gathering around bears that are up in a tree,” he said. That way they can come down at their leisure and move on, he said.

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