Growing number of incidents prompts crackdown to protect bears and people
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will try to protect both people and bears in the mountains around Aspen by requiring backcountry campers to store their food in hard-sided bear-proof containers.
The new regulation for the heavily visited 162,333 acre Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area on the White River National Forest comes after Forest Service rangers reported an increasing number of incidents involving humans and bears.
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.
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.
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 “Mountain town news roundup”→
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: Hungry bear forces Aspen camping restrictions”→
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.”