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Bear often wanders past boy’s window

Special to the Daily/Karl KruegerA bear often goes through Karl Kreuger's yard to get to trash containers that residents of River Oaks Condominiums leave open, he said. The company that manages the property says it will build a bear-proof shed.
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EAGLE COUNTY ” Karl Krueger worries about his son, whose bedroom window is four feet above the yard that is sometimes visited by a bear, he said.

Residents at the River Oaks Condominiums ” next door to Krueger’s home ” attract the bear by not shiutting the lid on their Dumpster during the day, he said.

“To their credit they do have bear-proof dumpsters,” said Krueger, a resident of Eagle-Vail. “It’s just a problem of managing them and making sure they close the dumpster every time.”



Residents like Krueger worry that not enough is being done by either their neighbors or authorities to prevent bears from coming near their homes.

River Oaks has bear-proof dumpsters, but the problem began when trash was thrown into the recycling bins, which were not bear-proof, said Patrick Adair, manager of River Oaks. River Oaks has since gotten rid of the recycling bins and it plans to build a bear-proof shed, he said.



“We really are being proactive on this,” Adair said.

A bear even pried open one of the complex’s Dumpsters, he said.

“Some of those bear-proof dumpsters are not so bear-proof, apparently,” Adair said.



Police haven’t done anything about a bear that ravages the trash outside Amanda Esslinger’s apartment where her two children play.

Esslinger, tenant at Riverview in Eagle-Vail, saw a bear outside and called police, she said.

From her apartment, Esslinger watched an officer tell a group of children ” including her daughter ” not to play behind the building, where the bear was seen, she said.

“He didn’t talk to any adults,” said Esslinger, who acknowledged that she was too afraid of the bear to go outside her apartment to speak with the deputy.

“I’m not faulting the wildlife,” Esslinger said. “I’m faulting the people who didn’t do anything to remove the bear.”

Few people who call about bears want police to remove them, said Kim Andree, spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

Besides, the Sheriff’s Office does not trap bears ” that’s the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s job, she said.

Unlike Vail police, who have been enforcing the town’s wildlife ordinance aggressively, Andree said sheriff’s deputies give warnings to people who do not bear-proof containers, Andree said.

Vail requires residents have bear-proof containers, while the county does not in unincoporated areas such as Eagle-Vail, Edwards and Beaver Creek.

“The solution isn’t just enforcement,” she said.

Residents should wash their trash cans with bleach and rinse out their recyclables, she said.

Sherry Smith, who also lives in Houston, left a birdfeeder on her balcony, thinking it would not attract a bear, she said. Since June 12, a bear has visited her home at least three times, she said.

On June 15, the bear broke into her Arrowhead home and ate some brown sugar that was on her pantry’s top shelf, she said. Smith later found a wrapper from a loaf of

bread outside, she said.

“Fortunately, I think the dog barking chased him out, but he took a loaf of bread to go,” Smith said.

Sheriff’s deputies and the Colorado Division of Wildlife have tried to help Smith get rid of the bear, she said. Deputies shot pepper balls at the bear one night, but it has returned since then, she said.

So, Division of Wildlife officers set up a trap with food and a sliding door to capture the bear, she said.

Esslinger and Krueger think more could be done to stop the bears.

People won’t take the bear threat seriously until someone terrible happens, like the boy who was snatched out of tent and killed in Utah, Krueger said.

“Our son will never sleep in a tent outside of our house,” Krueger said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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