DOW relocates pair of bears
The Division of Wildlife relocated a bear and her cub from Glenwood Springs Friday night after reports of an attack on a dog. The DOW also trapped a cub in Redstone on Sunday after it got into garbage, agency spokesman Randy Hampton said.This was the first time this year the DOW has moved bears out of Glenwood Springs, which like many other western Colorado communities has experienced an increase in bear activity in recent years.Glenwood Springs resident Ron Madsen said the agency needs to deal more aggressively with problem bears.”This is becoming like Yellowstone was, and they need to do something,” Madsen said.Madsen, who lives on Glenwood’s main thoroughfare, Grand Avenue, said the bear and cub that were eventually relocated tore some siding off his deck by his hot tub. He said DOW officers told him the animals may wanted to hibernate there this winter.Madsen said his neighborhood has seen bears off and on all summer, and this pair showed up Tuesday and didn’t leave. The bears showed no fear of people, and some residents were afraid to go outside, he said.
Still, when he called the DOW Friday, officers initially were reluctant to move the bears.They agreed to do so only after finding out about the attack on the dog, which was taken to a veterinarian for treatment. Hampton said he didn’t believe the dog’s injuries were life-threatening.Madsen fears a person is going to get hurt because of the DOW’s hesitance to deal with problem bears.”They have to realize that at some point a citizen has more rights than a bear does,” he said. He is worried about the number of bear encounters he has heard of around Glenwood Springs, including at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, as well as in No Name, just east of town.”Why are we baby-sitting these things when they’re dangerous and should be removed?” Madsen asked.He plans to raise his concerns with Glenwood Springs City Council at its meeting Thursday night.Hampton appreciates Madsen’s concern about the city’s bear problem, and is glad he plans to raise the issue with City Council. Hampton believes the city would be able to provide a partial solution if it would pass an ordinance aimed at minimizing the opportunities for bears to get into garbage.Hampton said addressing bear problems requires efforts by local governments and the public, and not the DOW alone.
“To say that the DOW needs to go and make sure we immediately take drastic actions against the bears isn’t sufficient to solve the problem,” Hampton said.”We don’t have the resources, nor necessarily the desire, to start tranquilizing every bear that comes into town.”The DOW relocated the Glenwood Springs bear and cub to Grand Mesa.The Redstone cub was thin, weighing about 30 pounds, Hampton said. It was taken to a rehabilitation center in Silt to fatten up and will be transferred later this week to a hibernation site in the high country.Problems with bears in recent years are a result of drought and late-spring freezes of berry crops that have reduced food sources, Hampton said.When bears come into town, the DOW typically tries to work with residents and communities to try to get them to reduce food sources such as garbage and bird feeders, in hopes the bears will leave on their own.Madsen said he agrees with attempts to get rid of such temptations, but doesn’t think a trash ordinance is going to solve the bear problem. “Garbage bears” are going to be too accustomed to that food source to give it up, he said.Yet the DOW refuses to deal with what is a safety issue, Madsen said.
“The people who want help can’t get it,” he said.”If they had been removing these garbage bears, then we wouldn’t be in the position we are now.”Hampton agreed that trash ordinances aren’t the entire answer to the bear problem. He noted that Aspen, which has such an ordinance, had as many as 12 bear calls a day this year.”It’s a tough year even with some bearproof trash ordinances,” he said.But he took issue with the suggestion that the DOW isn’t looking out for the public’s safety. Protecting the public is the number one mandate of the agency’s policy for dealing with bears, he said.”We’re going to deal with the bear behavior, and if it means moving them, we’re going to move them,” he said.The agency also authorizes its officers to put down a problem bear at their discretion if the animal is breaking into homes or otherwise endangering people.But some Redstone residents criticized the DOW after an officer put down a bear there earlier this year. While some people want bears dealt with whenever they’re near people, others object when the DOW intervenes, saying the bears were here before people were, Hampton said.Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said he believes the DOW works hard to try to protect both bears and people, and its officers have been good to work with.
Likewise, Hampton praised the work of police in places such as Glenwood Springs and Basalt in helping respond to bear incidents.Wilson said his department has taken hundreds of bear calls this year.”I think this year’s definitely been our bumper crop year for bears in town,” he said.Yet he said most people call simply to alert police that bears are around. He said he hadn’t heard of any concerns before last week about bears posing a potential threat to humans. While he understands Madsen’s concerns, he’s not sure last week’s encounter was any more dangerous than previous ones.”I think there’s a potential for danger any time you have wildlife and people in close proximity,” he said. “I think the potential is the same for two people in close proximity, and we deal with that more often.”He said he heard from someone else in Madsen’s neighborhood who was worried about the bears’ welfare, and said they were part of the neighborhood and part of the joy of living in Colorado.Wilson said he thinks a trash ordinance would result in “a huge improvement” in reducing the bear problem. One trailer park in town with an uncovered trash bin received daily visits by bears, he said.Not all problems can be solved through ordinances, though, Wilson said. For example, many bears are attracted to the plethora of fruit trees in town.But continuing education about reducing food sources would help, Wilson believes.But continuing education about reducing food sources would help, Wilson believes.
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