DOW creates bear plan
Bears would be tranquilized and removed from designated safety zones in Glenwood Springs as part of a more aggressive policy the Colorado Division of Wildlife plans to implement to reduce conflicts with the animal in town this summer.The pilot program also lays out specific, expanded criteria for destroying or relocating bears throughout town, as well as marking problem bears with paint balls, hazing them to drive them away, and paying repeat visits to homes where problems have arisen, in an attempt to reduce bear attractants such as food.The DOW is scheduled to lay out its program before City Council at its meeting tonight. Last month, council approved an ordinance regulating storage of trash and feeding of wildlife, in hopes of helping reduce the city’s growing bear problem. Under the new DOW program, bears would be removed from schools when children are present, and from the city’s core business area from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The area includes Grand Avenue from Seventh to 10th streets, and from Colorado to Cooper avenues downtown. Bears within a block of schools would be hazed aggressively for a week, and then trapped and relocated if they return. In city parks, bears would be marked and “heavily hazed” during park operating hours if no immediate safety threat is present.”Physical removal of a bear from a park through tranquilization would be warranted if the bear is presenting a public safety situation or due to the amount of people present, i.e. (during) Strawberry Days at Sayre Park,” the DOW plan states.Other highlights of the plan:– Bears that break into locked homes, which doesn’t include entry through screen doors or screen windows, would be destroyed. Some other bear actions also would result in the same action.– Bears that kill or attack livestock or dogs, break into locked outbuildings, or continue to be a problem in a neighborhood for at least a week after being marked and hazed would be trapped and relocated.In general, bears would be hazed to the edge of town by the DOW or Glenwood police, using pepper spray or balls, rubber buckshot, bean bags or other means. However, no hazing of bears in trees or up poles would occur.Also under the plan, homeowners with bear problems would be given a written list of foods and other bear attractants that need to be cleaned up, receive a second visit in about a week to check on compliance, and be cited if they didn’t comply and a bear returns.Previously, the DOW and police typically have provided information over the phone or by mail from the DOW office. Other actions have included a follow-up call by an officer, a site inspection, and hazing of bears.However, bear encounters continue to worsen. Glenwood police responded to more than 140 bear calls last year, with most involving a bear being in someone’s yard or knocking over trash, according to the DOW. In its plan it also pointed to three particularly notable incidents last year:– In May, a bear that was attracted by pet food killed a goat being raised for a 4-H project. The bear was trapped and relocated.– In August, a bear entered a screened porch while going after a box of peaches. Officers set a pepper sprayer to try to deter further such actions by the bear.– In November, a bear attacked a dog after being attracted to a neighborhood by garbage, bird feeders and fruit fallen from trees. The incident went unreported for a week because the dog owner felt the dog triggered the confrontation. The DOW tranquilized and relocated a sow and cub.The agency said bear awareness efforts aimed at things such as reducing bear attractants are paramount and will continue, but aren’t doing enough to address the local bear problem. “Despite everyone’s best educational efforts, the message still hasn’t gotten widespread acknowledgment from residents living in the problem areas,” it states in its plan. “Unfortunately, bears that do come into frequent contact with people may have to be trapped, relocated and/or destroyed,” the DOW added. “Generally, it is not for what the bear has done, but instead for what people think the bear might do. Bears that are perceived as a threat to human safety and property are often destroyed.”Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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