Bears busy on Western Slope
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” One bear has been shot to death, two more were struck and killed by vehicles and a fourth was trapped and relocated in recent incidents between Canyon Creek and Basalt.
Authorities are investigating the shooting of a bear at Lazy Glen Trailer Park near Basalt to see if it was justified or criminal charges are warranted, said Steve Yamashita, assistant regional manager of the Colorado Division of Wildlife in Grand Junction.
He said many of the recent encounters between bears and humans involve 2-year-olds ” still referred to as yearlings ” that no longer are living with their mothers.
“Since they don’t have a home range of their own they end up wandering,” he said.
As a result, some have been hit and killed by vehicles, including one young female on Interstate 70 in the No Name area and a yearling on Highway 82 that also had been hanging around Lazy Glen.
Wandering yearlings are searching for food, and may be more likely to look to human sources than older bears. A bear was relocated close to the Utah border after breaking into a house in Canyon Creek.
“Hopefully it won’t get in trouble again. If it does, though, this one is going to end up dead; that’s our policy,” Yamashita said.
The Division of Wildlife destroys relocated bears that return to residential areas and cause continued problems. Oftentimes, trash and other food left out by humans, such a bird feeders or diry barbecues, draw bears to homes, Yamashita said.
“People really need to be cognizant of that this time of year and do something about it and clean up their places,” he said.
The Division of Wildlife has had problems with some residents in Lazy Glen not seeking to eliminate such temptations. Lazy Glen resident Carmen Riley attested to that. She said compliance was high last year, but this year many residents in Lazy Glen didn’t get into the habit of securing their trash.
“There’s no enforcement from the homeowners association whatsoever,” Riley said.
The trash hauler for the neighborhood has supplied each residence with a garbage container that locks with a clasp.
“I found the easiest thing to do is go around on my bike and lock the cans that aren’t locked,” Riley said.
She confirmed several sightings of an adult bear and yearling at Lazy Glen this spring. She said they were scouting her yard on Sunday, May 6. She sprayed them in the face with a garden hose.
“I don’t think anybody has to pull a shotgun in a congested area like this and shoot a bear that’s no bigger than a dog,” Riley said.
She said she hopes one of her neighbors gets prosecuted for the shooting.
Yamashita said a bear was shot at the mobile home park after getting into a home and being driven out by a man firing a BB gun. He said the man then tried getting the bear out of his yard andshot it with a .22-caliber gun.
He said people have a right to shoot a bear to protect their property. However, he said authorities will consider “the whole package,” including whether the man was responsible for the bear being attracted to the property, or problems with neighboring homes resulted in the bear’s visit.
A young bear also visited two Glenwood Springs homes last week, apparently drawn by trash at least one of the homes, but it wandered off on its own.
The Canyon Creek bear apparently had visited Annie Jolley’s home a few days before breaking into another home. Jolley said the family didn’t have any pet food or a dirty barbecue grill or anything else outside that would have lured the animal, but it may have smelled the hamburgers her husband was cooking inside.
She said her 8-year-old son, Justin, and a friend were sitting at the kitchen counter when Justin started screaming and pointed to the bear in their backyard.
For the next two hours, it circled the house, crawling on patio furniture, peering in windows and trying to find a way in, Jolley said. She said the bear had a cactus stuck in its paw.
“My 14-year-old daughter (Alexandra) said, ‘Oh, I want to take it out, it must hurt,'” Jolley said.
The bear was trapped and relocated after breaking into a Canyon Creek house near I-70 a few days later, she said.
Jolley said the bear didn’t do any damage to her home, even when it clawed at a screen. But the family was prepared to shoot the bear if it had entered the home.
“We do have weapons, and if he got in then we would have gone that far,” she said.
Aspen Times report Scott Condon contributed this report.