Bears breaking into Aspen homes, too |

Bears breaking into Aspen homes, too

Greg Schreier
Paul Conrad/The Aspen TimesThis 350-pound black bear was tranquilized and captured after breaking in Deb Adams-Welles' Aspen home. Wildlife officers relocated the bear.

ASPEN ” Most people come home to find their ravenous, teenage children raiding the ‘fridge, but Deb Adams-Welles found a different hungry beast.

Adams-Welles returned to her Red Mountain home about 1 p.m. to find a furry black figure enjoying a meal in the kitchen. At first, she thought it may have been her pet Rottweiler. But it was a 350-pound male black bear.

“The first thing I noticed was that the kitchen was trashed,” Adams-Welles said. “Then I saw that it was a bear. I could hear my dog barking and my cat crying, so I was very fearful for them.”

Personnel from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the Aspen fire department responded to the home. The bear was tranquilized, tagged and loaded onto a truck to be relocated. Wildlife officials believe this is the same bear that broke into four or five homes this summer.

Although one problem bear has been taken care of, wildlife officials are warning Aspenites not to let their guard down. Wildlife manager Kevin Wright said it’s critical to pack trash carefully and lock all doors and windows to keep bears out.

“I realize it’s hot, but it’s critical,” he said.

Red Mountain is prime habitat for bears, and most can quickly figure out how to get their paws on human food, Wright said.

“We’ve placed ourselves in conflict to begin with,” he said. “He’s just following his instinct to feed.”

Wildlife manager John Groves said bears haven’t been a huge problem this summer, but “it’s starting to pick up.” The food supply is a little lower than usual, and officials are hoping bears will be less of a problem once the seasonal berries are in full bloom.

“Hopefully in the next week or so (the berries will) start to come on,” Groves said.

The bear entered through a lower-level, bedroom window that was cracked open while Adams-Welles was gone. Her husband left Sunday for a hunting trip, so she guessed the bear was waiting in the wooded area behind her home until the coast was clear.

Once she realized it was a bear, she went back out the front door to call the police.

“I left the door wide open, hoping he would just leave,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time Adams-Welles has noticed bears prowling around her home. Her family often watches bears from their wooden deck, and part of the home was recently repaired after a bear tried to get into the home’s trash closet.

“Not only had we replaced the doors from a prior break-in, but [the bear] peeled off the siding of the house,” Adams-Welles said.

This bear did leave the house, running about 30 feet up an evergreen tree. He eventually fell out of the tree after being tranquilized, and it took nine workers to haul him up to a truck.

Wright estimated that the bear weighed about 350 pounds ” the tarp that was initially going to be used to carry him split under his weight. It was probably an older bear based on the wear on his teeth, Groves said.

The Division of Wildlife has a two-strike policy, meaning the bear will be euthanized if he’s caught causing similar problems again. He’ll also be monitored through an electronic tag the rest of his life.

Nonetheless, wildlife officials say it’s up to homeowners to keep bears away.

“You have to keep it all locked up,” Groves said.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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