Does a bear sit in the woods? Not lately

Bruin wandering on 29 Road in GJ a sign of the times in tough summer

A female bear, about 125 pounds, sleeps it off after being tranquilized in the National Guard armory work yard on 29 Road on Wednesday morning. The summer has been busy for wildlife officers responding to bear calls.



Officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife tranquilized a black bear Wednesday morning found in the National Guard armory off of Riverside Parkway and 29 Road, the latest call during what’s been a busy summer for western Colorado wildlife officers.

The bear had first been sighted at around 8 a.m. near the intersection of 29 Road and the Interstate 70 Business Loop, CPW spokesperson Mike Porras said.

The bear had taken cover under a truck in the armory when two CPW officers, with help from Grand Junction police officers and deputies from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, tranquilized the bear using a dart gun. The CPW officers then took the bear and moved it to more suitable bear habitat, Porras said.

He said CPW tries to relocate bears found in cities 50 to 100 miles from where they’re picked up, but this can be a challenge.

“We don’t have a lot of wild areas any more where we can take bears,” Porras said, citing loss of habitat and the ever-growing human population in Colorado.

The black bear was a young, smallish female, Porras said — skinny but not emaciated. She likely entered the city to find food.

“The situation right now is that their natural food is scarce,” Porras said of black bears. The berry season this year wasn’t ideal, probably due to a late frost, and the very dry weather the Grand Valley experienced earlier this summer.

As a result, black bears, which are known to survive on a largely wild, vegetarian diet, will look toward human settlements for supplementary food sources as they try to put enough meat on their bones to survive their winter hibernation.

“Bears must eat up to 20,000 calories or the equivalent of 70 McDonald’s cheeseburgers a day,” Porras said.

Porras said bird feeders and waste bins are common targets, though some bears also prey on unprotected livestock.

He suggests the public go to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, cpw.state.co.us, and become “bear aware,” then take the necessary precautions to protect themselves, their property and their animals from hungry bears.

“This time of year, it’s especially important for people to not use bird feeders, to bring in their trash — to do what they can,” Porras said.

He said CPW is getting about three or four calls per day about bears in Mesa and Garfield counties, and he expects many more calls to come in over the next few months until the bears settle in for the winter, typically in mid-December.

“It’s been a busy year, and it will likely get busier,” Porras said.


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