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DOW puts down two bears in Roaring Fork Valley

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo credit and cutline w/JGar's story
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Colorado Division of Wildlife officers had to put down two black bears this past weekend In the Roaring Fork Valley, and relocated another.

One of the black bears had become a nuisance in the West Glenwood area, the other euthanized bear was from Aspen. The relocated bear was also from Aspen and was sent to an area near Canon City.

According to DOW spokesman Randy Hampton, the two euthanized bears bring the total to five that have been put down after being declared nuisance in the three county area of Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties.



Sunday, a mother black bear and her three cubs were found feasting on frozen chickens left in a freezer on a porch in West Glenwood, according to Police Chief Terry Wilson.

According to Hampton, wildlife officers have dealt with this mother bear recently, and she was forcing her way into homes to find food. According to Hampton, the bear was not responsive to humans.



“This bear had learned that getting into houses earns a reward. She was not afraid of people,” Hampton said. “We didn’t have a lot of options.”

The three cubs were sent to a rehabilitation center in Silt, but Hampton said, “It’s unlikely that they will be rehabilitated.”

Wildlife officers have relocated two bears from Glenwood Springs this summer, including the black bear that sauntered into the Hotel Colorado in early July, and two from Aspen.

The Hotel Colorado black bear was relocated to an area in the Uncompahgre National Forest south of Montrose. According to Hampton, within four days the 2-year-old female bear made her way to the Gateway area, where she began raiding trash cans once again. Two days later, according to Hampton, the bear made its way to Grand Junction and raided a number of trash cans and attempted to enter some homes before she was trapped and euthanized.

The black bear was put down by wildlife officers just about one week after it was relocated, he said.

Hampton said that black bear incidents are keeping wildlife officers very busy this year.

“They are busier than they were in 2007,” Hampton said.

In 2007, wildlife officers were inundated with bear incidents in the Roaring Fork Valley after a late spring freeze in the high country killed off much of the bear’s natural food crop, Hampton said. This year, with all the rain and warm temperatures through the spring, Hampton said that the natural food crop is a little behind schedule, and that has bears rummaging through trash cans and even breaking into houses to find a meal.

“There is a great deal of food out there, but it’s about two weeks behind schedule,” Hampton said.

Hampton said also that during 2005-07, local bears became habituated to human food sources due to poor crops.

“Because of that, black bears have turned back up in town, looking for anything that they can eat,” Hampton said.

While Glenwood proper has a trash ordinance, outside of the city limits there isn’t one, and that has created a lot of problems with people leaving their trash in areas easily accessed by bears. And it’s not limited to one area.

“It’s kind of everywhere,” Hampton said. “We have had quite a few problems this year.”

Hampton said that wildlife officers have reported bear incidents in West Glenwood and Glenwood proper. Most recently, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office responded to a bear incident in No Name on July 25. And wildlife officers were also called to West Glenwood again Monday afternoon, as a black bear was again going through trash cans in a neighborhood there.

“Bears don’t always create the problem,” Hampton said. “But oftentimes the problem is created for them.”

The DOW has eight wildlife officers who cover the counties of Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield.

This year officers have had to put down three black bears in the Glenwood Springs/Roaring Fork Valley area, two near Aspen, and two more in the Eagle Valley area, Hampton said. There have also been five reports of bears being killed after collisions with motor vehicles in the three county area. All the bear calls are keeping wildlife officers very busy.

“It’s gotten to the point of exhausting for the wildlife officers to have to deal with this problem,” Hampton said.

Hampton said that each of the officers is dealing with bear calls, which leaves no time for other wildlife management operations. The DOW is asking for people to be diligent in doing everything they can to not attract bears.

“The public has got to help,” Hampton said. “Or else it leaves us in a position where we have to put down bears.”

According to Wilson, Glenwood Police have definitely seen an increase in calls concerning bears getting into trash cans. While they have warned many residents about the ordinance to keep trash indoors until the day of pick up, they haven’t had to write many citations, yet.

“We are still in the warning phase and hoping that the education will reduce the problems,” Wilson said. “It’s just going to take a couple of weeks.”

Meanwhile, wildlife officers will continue to be occupied with calls as long as trash is available for bears.

“It’s frustrating,” Hampton said. “In Aspen, Glenwood, in Vail, we understand that there are ordinances in place and that the communities are doing what they can to enforce them, but it’s a public problem, and we see too many times where the public does not care.”

jgardner@postindependent.com


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