Wildlife officers kill bear, 2 cubs called nuisance

A bear and her two cubs that had been seen lately around homes in the area of 26 Road were killed earlier this week by local wildlife officials.

The trio with tagged ears,  which had become a nuisance eating from garbage cans in Aspen and were taken back into the higher country, apparently made their way to homes in the area of north Grand Junction, according to spokesman Mike Porras of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Porras said someone reported seeing the bears in a tree in a canal near Horizon Drive and Interstate 70. Officers found the bears there and put them down Tuesday, Porras said.

“It goes to show you they were comfortable around humans,” he said. “They’re not aggressive toward people, but they can be in their search for food.”

Bears should have enough food in the high country right now to stock up for winter in preparation for going into hibernation around mid-December, Porras said.

Bears that become accustomed to human food, either in towns or at campsites, are trapped, tagged and relocated. Tagged bears that make their way back to towns in search of human food often are killed because they pose a threat to people, Porras said.

“Putting a bear down like this is a very difficult part of their job,” he said of the officers’ work. “They hate doing this. Certainly plenty of officers in our state are frustrated with compliance.”

The saying that a fed bear is a dead bear often rings true, Porras said. He reminded folks to keep garbage cans secure and pet food from being accessible to the outdoors. Even bears that are relocated hundreds of miles away can travel back to an area. They have been known to travel 100 miles a night, Porras said.

Karen Lee Kiefer, who lives on 26 Road near the Grand Valley Canal, said she saw the three bears after they made their way onto her porch, peering in through her closed, sliding-glass doors.

“It took me a while to figure out it wasn’t just a big black dog there,” she said. “It was a shock.”

Wildlife officers this year have been dealing with a number of bear and human confrontations in Aspen. Some people had been bitten by bears while camping in their tents because bears start to associate tents with food.

Bears also have been breaking into homes in the Pitkin County area in search of food, he said.

This time of year, Porras said, bears need to put on about 20,000 calories a day, the equivalent of 70 Big Macs from McDonald’s.

“They’re just searching for an easy meal,” he said.

“Too many bears have learned that the place to go is to feed on open garbage containers.”


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