Bears a ‘furry headache’ for law enforcement

One can only imagine the PR and advertising folks in Aspen aren’t excited to be known as the bear-conflict capital of Colorado, but a recent report from the Aspen Police Department might have some marketing value.

A story in Friday’s Aspen Times reported the police department’s annual end-of-year statistics for 2012 showed its officers responded to 1,040 bears incidents from early summer through mid-autumn.

That’s up remarkably from previous years, although the trend in human/bear conflicts steadily has been upward in recent years. Aspen’s finest reported 82 bear situations in 2010 and 351 in 2011.

As Aspen Times reporter Andre Salvail noted, 2012 “was a big, furry headache for law enforcement.”

Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor told Salvail, “The bears took up a huge amount of time and resources.”

At the same time,” Pryor said, “we felt we really had good cooperation from the community, and people did try to make a difference in their habits in terms of trash and using the right containers.”

Aspen, Pitkin County and nearby towns in recent years have been pressing residents to use bear-resistant trash containers and to be bear-smart when feeding pets and birds and using outside grills, barbecues and other attractive-nuisance sort of appliances.

With the continuing drought and its attendant shortage of natural foods, perhaps it’s not so hard to understand the 1,200 percent increase in bear conflicts over four years.

Salvail reported bears, sometimes attracted to the trash and grease containers behind downtown restaurants, occasionally have been seen munching the crabapples near the pedestrian mall in Aspen, where their presence understandably drew large crowds.

“It was a handful to manage all the bears,” Pryor continued in his interview with Salvail. “But we live within a riparian habitat, and this is where they like to live, so we have to keep continuing to work on improving that dynamic for the bears and for us.”

Still, it’s wise to be cautious when wandering Aspen’s streets after dark. That large furry thing rambling ahead of you might be something other than a rich maven headed back to her Starwood mansion after a night on the town.

Marcella, Spehar join council

Two Grand Junction residents well-known to the local sporting community were elected Wednesday as regional representatives to the statewide Sportsmen’s Councils starting next month in Denver.

Kenny Marcella and Jim Spehar will attend the biannual roundtables where they and other regional representatives will discuss wildlife issues with Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.

Northwest region sportsmen with issues to be addressed may contact Marcella at 523-1479 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and Spehar at 260-0484 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The roundtable will consist of 24 members: 16 statewide members and two delegates from each of the four regions.

For more information, contact Dave Chadwick at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 303-291-7174, or visit the CPW website at wildlife.state.co.us.


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