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Wildlife: Bear encounters already reported in Aspen area

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The U.S. Forest Service is trying to get a jump on unwanted bear encounters in the Aspen area. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Forest Service orders campers to keep food in sealed storage bins at campgrounds

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A spate of bear encounters in the Aspen area has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to require campers to store their food, cooking equipment, cooking utensils, and coolers in bear-resistant containers, such as a closed, locked vehicle or a food locker.

The order affects all developed recreation sites on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in the upper Roaring Fork Valley of Pitkin County including the designated campsites along Lincoln Creek and Castle Creek. Nineteen sites on the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District in Eagle County are also included.

The Forest Service is trying to get an early handle on unwanted encounters after a series of incidents in late May, when a large bear approached campers at one or more camp sites and was undeterred by human presence, shouting, car horns, and other noise and commotion.

One camper reported that the bear tried to open a car door with people and a dog inside. Other campers that improperly stored food and garbage probably played a major role in these incidents. When bears associate food and garbage with humans and their belongings, they will become habituated to the human environment.

The food storage order helps break the bear’s link between human presence and a possible reward of food or garbage. If bears don’t get rewarded, their natural behavior is to avoid humans and their belongings. Compared to natural foods that bears eat in the wilds, human foods and garbage have a tremendous amount of calories, fat, and nutrients.

Any odorous substance can attract bears, including garbage and refuse, cooking oil, dirty dishes, and toiletries.  It is important to prevent bears from associating any such odors with people.

Violators could be fined up to $5,000 or up to six months in prison. Visit the White River National Forest online to get more information on national forest lands camping and addresses and telephone numbers for local ranger stations.

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Colorado: Bears getting hungry as they prepare for a long winter’s nap; wildlife managers urge caution

A hungry bear climbs into a Dumpster in search of food. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Forest Service orders special precautions in Vail area

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Numerous encounters between people and bears in the high country have prompted the White River National Forest to require campers to store all food and refuse in a bear-resistant container or inside a vehicle in a sealed container.

“Due to a lack of forage bears are on the hunt for alternative sources of food, campsites and picnic areas can appear, to a bear, an easy target,” said Eagle Holy Cross deputy district ranger Matt McCombs.

“We’ve had multiple encounters at our campgrounds where bears have been rewarded for their efforts … putting their safety and campers at risk.”  McCombs said, “With fall on its way and bears stocking up before hibernation, ensuring campers are being bear aware is the best way to keep everyone safe.” Continue reading

Mountain town news roundup

Aspen, Telluride and Jackson Hole

Mountain town news.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A U.S. Forest Service assessment of conditions in popular wilderness spots around Aspen suggests the agency may not be living up to its mandate to preserve the wilderness qualities of those areas. More specifically, the report found that, in popular backcountry destinations like Conundrum hot springs, so many people camp and leave their waste that the springs are contaminated with fecal coliform. Read the full wilderness story in the Aspen Daily News.

The Aspen Daily News is also reporting that unusually dry spring weather may be driving hungry bears into town to look for food. Already, state wildlife officials have set traps in the Aspen area to try and capture two nuisance bears. Read the full story here. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Colorado bears emerging from hibernation

Bears that become habituated to food from human sources can be a problem, and it's a situation that usually doesn't end well for the bear. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

Wildlife experts focus on educating residents on living with wildlife

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With early bear sightings reported along the Front Range and in the high country, state wildlife managers are once encouraging residents to take steps to avoid unwanted close encounters with the wild animals.

“So far the reports that we’ve received have been mostly just sightings – people seeing bears,” said Cory Chick, Area Wildlife Manager for Colorado Springs. “But it’s a very good time to remind people that trash is the number one bear attractant and people can do their part by following some simple rules at home.”

The unseasonably warm weather of the past few weeks is luring the omnivores out of their dens. Bear sightings have been reported in Colorado Springs, Aspen, Durango and Summit County. Continue reading

Colorado: Hungry bears spur warnings for campers, hikers

Hungry bears preparting for hibernation present a potential risk to campers in Colorado.

Recent Aspen-area maulings underscore seriousness of warnings

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — State and federal resource managers are making a late-summer push to minimize potentially dangerous encounters between people and bears by focusing on education and outreach.

“National Forests are bear country,” White River National Forest officials said in a press relase. “It’s their home and we are the visitors. Whether camping or hiking on a National Forest, in the front country or in the back country; if you are doing it on National Forest System lands, you are in bear country and need to be prepared to share the forest with the bears.”

Local information for Summit County will be offered Sept. 8 during a Bear Aware session at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge at 6:30 p.m. Continue reading

Colorado: Bike-race campers warned of bear encounters

Some race fans camping along the route of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be in the heart of bear habitat, and state wildlife managers are trying to educate campers about how to avoid and unwated encounter. PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL SERAPHIN/COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

Unwanted confrontations can be avoided by locking up food and keeping a clean camp

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s bears are trying to fatten themselves up for the winter just as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is set to wind through the state’s mountains, and with thousands of cycling fans from around the country expected to camp along the route, state wildlife managers say they concerned about the potential for unwanted human-bear encounters.

The cautions come just after a bear entered and damaged two tents in the Difficult Campground near Aspen. Due to the increasing number of incidents involving bears in this campground during the past few weeks, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U. S. Forest Service mutually agreed to restrict the site to hard-sided camping only.

“We decided to err on the side of caution and protect human health and safety,” said Perry Will, a state wildlife manager. “Based on the bear situation in this campground, we don’t think camping in a tent is safe.”

According to the Difficult Campground host, the site is fully booked next Monday and Tuesday night as cycling fans had planned to camp overnight and watch the race as it passes over Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass into Aspen on Wednesday, Aug. 24. It is likely the restrictions will remain in place as the race progresses through the area and fans are advised to make other arrangements if they were planning to sleep in tents. Continue reading

Colorado: Prime feeding time for bears is just ahead

Dry conditions in southern Colorado prompt warnings from wildlife managers

Breckenridge resident Jane Hendrix photographed a bear trundling down Lone Hand Way in the Peak 7 neighborhood early Friday morning, July 22

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With natural food sources in short supply this year, bears in southern Colorado are entering homes, garages and sheds, as well as breaking into chicken coops and damaging beehives.
Wildlife officers reacted to the higher-than-normal number of bear incidents by asking resident and vacationers in southern Colorado to take extra care to avoid attracting hungry bears.

“This has been a below average year for natural food for bears,” said Cory Chick, an area wildlife manager in Colorado Springs. “During the summer, bears depend on green, palatable vegetation and bugs and other critters they find under rocks and logs as their primary food sources. But those natural food sources are harder to find in dry conditions.”

Although this specific warning concerns southern Colorado, Summit County is also prime bear habitat and there are frequent bear sightings in local neighborhoods, most recently Friday morning in the Peak 7 neighborhood near Breckenridge. Continue reading

Colorado: Bear killed after biting camper near Leadville

A Colorado black bear. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE.

Wildlife officials say the early morning attack was unprovoked

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Division of Wildlife officers killed a bear today (July 15) near Leadville after the animal injured a teenager in what is thought to be an unprovoked attack.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said the attack happened at about 3:30 a.m. Friday morning when the teen woke up as a black bear bit into his leg.

The victim fought off the bear and other campers scared the bear out of the area. Hundreds of campers are in the Twin Lakes area for the Colorado Bowhunters Association annual Jamboree. Continue reading

Colorado finalizes ban on hunting bears in dens

Wildlife agency also up bear licenses by 17 percent

Colorado adopts a ban on hunting bears in dens, but ups bear licenses by 17 percent. PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL SERAPHIN, CDOW.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Wildlife Commission last week finalized regulations that ban hunting or harassment of black bears in their dens. The new regulation was prompted by an incident last year, when a hunter near Craig tracked a a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the bear.

The Craig bear killing elicited a critical public reaction, spurring wildlife managers to consider the change. The ban was first discussed at meeting in January 2011, when the commission directed staff to draft a new regulation. The regulation was reviewed in March and approved the commission last week in Salida. Continue reading

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