Aspen: Bears keep police busy, tourists enthralled |

Aspen: Bears keep police busy, tourists enthralled

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesA crowd gathers at the corner of Galena and Cooper in downtown Aspen on Friday morning to watch, and photograph, a bear in a tree.

ASPEN – Bears in trees and rapt onlookers kept Aspen police and a Colorado Division of Wildlife officer busy Friday.

One bruin took refuge in a large cottonwood tree on Hyman Avenue, where officers roped off a section of the pedestrian mall in hopes that the bruin would come down.

The bear reportedly climbed the tree at about 6 a.m. and was still there in the afternoon. He was panting and appeared uncomfortable in the heat, but was apparently fearful of the crowd below.

“The fewer people who are around, the better off we’d be,” said John Groves, DOW district wildlife manager, before he was summoned to another bear call, leaving Aspen’s community safety officers to keep watch over the situation.

Officers hoped the bear would eventually climb down on his own so they could shoo him up Galena Street, toward Aspen Mountain.

The bear was wearing a tracking collar, indicating he’s part of a study on black bear movements, but numerous citizens mistakenly thought the bear had been tagged for previous problems and would be euthanized. That’s not the case, community safety officer Vanessa Olson assured those who inquired.

A constant influx of new spectators approached the police tape to snap photos of the bear with cell phones and cameras, and to quiz officers on how it got up there (it climbed up) and how it would get down (it will climb down).

“You don’t see that in Nebraska,” said one tourist.

Incidents involving bears in town are occurring almost constantly as the animals feed continuously in preparation for hibernation. There have been 225 bear calls to the police department so far this month, including 98 between Aug. 21-28, according to the department.

Police received 15 bear calls in a 24-hour period starting at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

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