Dead Beaver Creek bear not shot, unknown if poisoned, officials say | VailDaily.com

Dead Beaver Creek bear not shot, unknown if poisoned, officials say

BEAVER CREEK — Wildlife officials are investigating the death of a mother bear in Beaver Creek and have found no evidence of a gunshot trauma or gunshot wounds.

Investigators have also found no evidence of a toxicant, said Mike Porras, public information officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

"The toxicology results will not be available until next week. Until then, we don't know what caused the death of the bear," Porras said.

The dead bear was discovered Sunday. Beaver Creek residents told wildlife authorities there were also three cubs. Two were found and transported to a rehabilitation facility, Porras said. The third cub has not been found.

Beaver Creek residents initially reported hearing gunshots, so it was first suspected the that bear had been shot to death. It wasn't, Porras said.

"We'll be happy to reveal cause of death as soon as we have something to report," Porras said. "As of right now, we have no visual evidence of gunshot wounds and no evidence pointing to a toxicant."

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Unfortunately, the bear seemed too comfortable near a residential neighborhood, Porras said.

With Colorado's bear population conservatively estimated between 17,000 and 20,000 and the human population at about 5.5 million, wildlife officials say human-bear conflicts remain a primary concern.

A viral video from Vail last month showed a bear seemingly playing the piano after it entered a Vail condominium through an open window while the occupant was away.

"Bears are just doing what comes naturally to them," said Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will, of Glenwood Springs, in a news release. "They are driven by hunger and instinct, and when their natural food sources become scarce like we've seen with the recent dry spell in some areas, they look for other sources. That brings them into communities where they easily find all kinds of things to eat."

Will said humans can choose how they behave, and many people should be making better decisions.

"It's actually fairly simple — keep your food away from bears," Will said. "We can't stress it enough: Never, ever feed a bear, whether by leaving your trash out, your lunch in your car, your birdfeeders up or giving it a handout — it's all the same. Bears are smart and have great memories."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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