Event organizer

Organizer Arranges Aspen Community Meeting With CPW About Recent Bear Death

This map shows bear activity in Colorado in 2021.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The Aspen community will have the opportunity this month to question and hear from state wildlife officials about the euthanasias of a sow and her four cubs last month.

The Colorado Bear Coalition will host a town hall-style meeting from 5-7 p.m. on September 27 at the William R. Dunaway Meeting Room at the Pitkin County Library. The event is open to the public and CPW officers will be present, the CPW confirmed on Monday. You can register to attend the event at http://www.coloradobearcoalition.org/aspenbearevent.

“A mom with four cubs is not unheard of, but that’s kind of unusual on its own,” Brenda Lee, who started the Colorado Bear Coalition last year, said Monday. “And wow, a mom with four cubs and the fact that they shot four cubs, that’s just terrible.”



Also a founder of the Boulder Bear Coalition in 2013, Lee said the meeting will be a candid discussion about how the community can do better to avoid conflicts with bears, which can lead to euthanasia. The bear coalition’s goal is to use community feedback to inform ways to reduce bear visitation, while also working with state wildlife officials and local governments.

“The purpose of the meeting will be to bring the community together, to energize it,” she said, noting that the Boulder Bear Coalition would often hold public meetings after wildlife officers put down a problem bear. .



“We would get the community, CPW and city officials together to talk about what happened and the community could hear it first hand from the CPW why they killed the bears,” she said. . “It eliminated that kind of middle person and maybe details that get lost in translation.”

Lee was motivated to organize the Aspen reunion after hearing about the five bears who were shot on August 21 after entering a house on Primrose Path a day earlier. The home is located in the unincorporated county of Pitkin.

WHAT HAPPENED

At approximately 5:00 p.m. on August 20, the owner called authorities about bears that had entered the residence through a downstairs kitchen window. While family members stayed upstairs, the bears damaged furniture in the home and took food from the refrigerator, according to a CPW incident report.

The bears did not accuse any family members or have any contact with them, but the owner called law enforcement because she believed they were in danger, she previously told the Aspen Times.

After local authorities responded, a CPW officer came to the house and set a trap in the driveway to catch the sow, which happened the next morning.

This image shows two cubs near the very trap where their mother was captured.
Courtesy picture

“Four cubs accompanying the sow were not in the trap at the time, but were observed returning to the window they had previously entered, attempting to regain the entrance – indicating learned behavior and associated high potential for bears to enter another occupied dwelling in the future,” the report said. “All four cubs were restrained, captured and removed by wildlife officers.”

Various letters to the editor and social media posts blamed the CPW and also argued that the cubs could at least have been moved.

“The community often blames CPW because they are the ones who kill the bears that come to town. My goal is to work with CPW, not against CPW,” Lee said.

Other people said the owner was responsible, by her own admission, that the bears were able to enter the kitchen because a floor-level window was ajar. The CPW report said the door was closed but unlocked.

BEAR BEHAVIOR

Black bears aren’t naturally aggressive, but their sheer size can make them a threat if they’re hungry and want food, according to CPW. Male bears can reach 600 pounds and females rarely exceed 200 pounds, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

“A bear determined to feed can easily injure anyone who gets in its way,” said the The CPW website says. “Every year, bears that become too comfortable with people must be destroyed.”

Under Colorado’s two-step policy, authorities will mark and relocate a black bear that poses a threat or creates a nuisance. If the tagged bear enters a home, for example, and is flagged again as a nuisance or a threat, wildlife officers attempt to trap and euthanize it. The five wildlife officer bears killed had not been tagged, according to CPW.

Either way, Lee said the bears shouldn’t have been in the neighborhood in the first place.

“Bears are in town quite often because there are attractants…and the community can do a better job of reducing the attractants and we can increase bear hazing so they don’t want to associate with people .”

The incident report says wildlife officers euthanized the bears after determining “that the behavior of the adult bear and her cubs posed an immediate threat to human safety.” It is the duty of Colorado Parks and Wildlife to manage the state’s wildlife resources for the benefit of residents. Included is the responsibility to protect the human health and safety of animals that are deemed dangerous based on their location or behavior. »

BEAR FACTS

According to a CPW report on bear activity in Colorado released in February, “A public concern of which CPW is aware is the reluctance to report bear activity for fear that it will lead to the downing of the The data shows that of the 14,013 reports wildlife managers have received about bears in the past three years, only 2.3% of them led to euthanasia.

Wildlife officers moved 51 bears and euthanized 66 bears in 2021, which is significantly down from 118 relocations and 158 euthanasias in 2020, according to the report.

CPW’s northwest region, which includes Pitkin County, had 1,834 bear sightings in 2021, down from 1,642 reported in 2020 and down from 2,146 in 2019.

Aspen and Pitkin County have run “bear awareness” campaigns in the past encouraging people to secure trash in their homes and vehicles, not to use bird feeders, to clean their barbecue grills, to keep food out of their parked cars, lock vehicles, and close and lock windows and doors on the ground floor of homes.

The county and the city too have prescriptions require businesses and residences to use wildlife-resistant trash cans and garbage containers.

As bear activity in and around Aspen accompanies the territory, Lee said it would take a community movement to reduce human-bear conflict, which can not only drive policy change, but inspire statehood. collective mind to not give the bruins a reason to visit – whether it’s locking the doors, securing the trash, or confusing them when they visit.

“The community has the power and we are not the victims of government agencies that set the rules and policies,” she said. “We can actually determine the existing rules and policies and it’s a critical part of the solution to have a vision.”

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