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Colorado: Hungry bear forces Aspen camping restrictions

Some bears look cute and cuddly from afar, but they can cause trouble when habituated to humans and human food. PHOTO COURTESY USFSW.

Forest Service temporarily limits camping to hard-sided campers at Difficult campground

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — He might not be quite as smart as Yogi, but a black bear in the Aspen area seems to know that a campground might be an easy place to score a free meal.

Repeated sightings of the bear in the Difficult Campground, 6 miles east of the Aspen, have prompted Forest Service officials to enact camping restrictions, with to tents or soft-sided trailers or campers permitted for the time being. As per normal precautions, all unattended food and coolers must be contained in a bear box or locked vehicle and all garbage must be disposed of in trash containers.

“Bears and people do not mix well, especially when bears get used to people and their food,” said district ranger Scott Snelson. “To protect both people and bears, we are closing this campground to tents and soft sided trailers until further notice.”

“This bear seems habituated to people and human foods. People need to understand any time you camp they need to take appropriate precautions,” Forest Service wildlife biologist Phil Nyland said.

As an alternative to the Difficult Campground, the Forest Service is recommending the camping opportunities along Colorado Highway 82 between Aspen and Independence Pass; specifically the Weller and Lincoln Gulch Campgrounds and Lincoln Creek Dispersed Sites.

Bears are opportunistic feeders, they go after the easy food especially if they have gotten used to human foods.  To minimize the potential of attracting a bear to your campsite, campers must observe following precautions:

  • When not in use, store your food and cooking equipment in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Do not take any food into your tent at any time.
  • Leave the clothing worn during food preparation in your vehicle and not in your tent.
  • Do not set your tent up in close proximity to your cooking area.  These guidelines apply in any camping situation, but are especially applicable in dispersed camping areas.

The Forest Service works in coordination with the Division of Parks and Wildlife on bear management issues.  Additional information about camping on the Aspen and Sopris Ranger Districts can be obtained by calling 970-925-3445 or 970-963-2266 during office hours.  Information may also be found on the Forest Service website.

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