Bears are always nearby |

Bears are always nearby

J.K. Perry
Preston Utley/Daily file photoAfter wildlife officers removed a bear from West Vail last week, one resident is urging her neighbors not to get complacent about storing trash properly.

VAIL ” The removal of three bears from West Vail a week ago worries some people who think residents might get the impression trash no longer poses a threat to luring the wild animals into town.

“Now if people just relax and become careless again we will have another one moving in,” said West Vail resident Heidi Mani. “It’s just a cycle that keeps on going. People need to be mindful. They think because something is gone now it’s not going to happen.”

In recent months a black bear sow entered at least three homes in West Vail, her two cubs in tow. The three were captured June 29. Colorado Division of Wildlife officers planned to euthanize the mother bear because she had become a danger to humans. The two cubs will be released into the wild in January.

“We all have to be responsible and we all need to be a part of the action and educate people,” Mani said. “Everybody is upset but nobody wants to pick up the phone and call a neighbor and tell them. Is it ignorance, I don’t know?”

Residents need to have bear-resistant containers with latches secured, Mani said.

Wildlife officers hope residents remain vigilant in properly storing their trash because other bears live in the Vail area.

“The Division of Wildlife would certainly hope people don’t become lax in their practices,” said Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Division of Wildlife. “We’ve had lots of cooperation from the community during the time we were looking for the bears.

“The story itself did a good job highlighting the need for proper trash care and other bear-safe measures in other parts of Vail. Certainly we’ve got a lot of good momentum and we’d certainly hope people would see that even though these particular bears have been captured, people should realize there are a lot of bears in the Vail area.”

Vail Police Department officers received at least two calls about bear sightings on Tuesday night, Vail police Chief Dwight Henninger said.

On July 11, police plan to recommend to the Vail Town Council that officers step up enforcement of the town’s bear ordinance, a law the department has been lax about. Since the inception of the bear ordinance in 2002, 408 warnings and 13 citations have been issued by officers, Henninger said.

Henninger said he won’t push for a new law requiring wildlife-resistant containers.

Of particular concern to Henninger is trash on construction sites, where separate food trash containers are required, and must be removed each night. Wildlife officers told Henninger food trash at construction sites originally drew the three bears into town last year, he said.

Henninger said it would be a mistake for people to become lax about properly storing their trash, something they need to do year-round.

“People should be aware of the laws and abide by them all the time, if for nothing else we don’t have to have any more bear nuisances,” Henninger said.

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or

Vail, Colorado

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