‘If a bear finds a fawn, it will make a meal of it’ | PostIndependent.com

‘If a bear finds a fawn, it will make a meal of it’

This is one of the fawns that was born in Ron Madsen's backyard off Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs.
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If people have a wildlife conflict in the Roaring Fork Valley, they can call Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Glenwood Springs office at 970-947-2920, or they can call Colorado State Patrol dispatch at 970-824-6501. People should call 911 only in a true emergency, and CPW urges residents not to call if an animal appears to merely be passing through.

Ron Madsen and his wife were delighted in late May when two fawns were born in their backyard.

“We didn’t mess with them. We watched them,” said Madsen, whose house isn’t off in a secluded area — he lives in the 1700 block of Grand Avenue.

The little wildlife experience came to a bloody end last week.

Madsen was arriving home and a neighbor behind his house said the bear had killed one of the fawns in the neighbor’s yard. They soon found the other dead under the swing in Madsen’s yard.

The bear was strolling along the sidewalk on Polo Circle, Madsen and another neighbor, June Copenhaver, said.

“This was a killer bear,” said Copenhaver, adding that children were playing outside in the neighborhood, which was her biggest concern.

Madsen said the moderate-sized black bear showed no fear of people. “It was like, ‘Well the hell with you. This is my land,’” he said.

Of course that’s the animal attitude that concerns Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, said Mike Porras, regional spokesman for the agency.

“We’re not going to stand by if a bear takes up residence in a neighborhood,” he said.

But, “it’s not uncommon for wildlife to come into populated areas … and if a bear finds a fawn, it will make a meal of it.”

While bears have been sighted this summer along the Rio Grande Trail near Carbondale and a bear was struck Friday by a vehicle near Carbondale on Highway 82, along with mountain lion incidents at Woody Creek and near Rock Bottom Ranch, this season is perfectly normal for animal activity, Porras said.

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson agrees.

“It’s pretty typical,” Wilson said Friday, though the incident on Polo was unusual. Still, “we couldn’t find the darn thing,” Wilson said of the bear that killed the fawns, and it apparently hasn’t returned to the neighborhood.

The chief said his night shift officers report about five bears living around town this summer, a couple of which have been trapped and removed.

Porras said five bears were relocated by CPW in May and June in Pitkin, Eagle, eastern Garfield counties after troublesome encounters with people and four were put down. CPW has a two-strike policy regarding bears — after one incident in which a bear appears to have lost its natural fear of people, it is tagged and relocated. If a tagged bear has a second such encounter, it is killed.

“Trapping and tranquilization is becoming less of an option for the agency,” he said, because the state has ever fewer locations where bears can be moved where they will be secluded from people.

And, almost always, people are the root of the problem, Porras and Wilson said.

“It takes one person who leaves trash out to put the whole neighborhood at risk,” Porras said.

While Glenwood residents are adapting to an ordinance in its second year that requires them to secure trash, “we’re still having incidents,” Wilson said. “We just issued a $500 ticket to a residence last week.”

The Glenwood ordinance sets a $50 fine for a first violation of failure to secure trash and $500 for subsequent offenses.

Indeed, Madsen said, the bear that killed the fawns had dragged someone’s trash into his neighbor’s yard where it also apparently found one of the fawns.

Porras said CPW continues to get reports of people putting food out for animals, including deer. Putting food out for deer also attracts predators. “Lions eat deer,” he noted.

Madsen, who said he had a bear and its cubs in one of his trees about 10 years ago, dislikes CPW’s hands-off approach to wildlife that pass through populated areas.

“I believe people have more rights than bears,” he said. “Somebody will get hurt the way they do it now.”

But Porras said people should work to make wildlife unwelcome in residential areas and hope they move on so authorities don’t have to intervene. “Haze wildlife that happen to find their way into neighborhoods,” he said. Bang pots and pans, make noise, run the animals off.

Call authorities if an animal seems comfortable around people or doesn’t respond to noise.

“Don’t call if an animal passes through,” Porras said. “That’s a bear being a bear, a lion being a lion. We call that a wildlife viewing experience that’s part of the great things about living in Colorado.”

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