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Bears captured in West Vail

J.K. Perry
Preston Utley/Vail DailyA black bear lay sedated on the lawn of a West Vail neighborhood Thursday. The bear was in search of its two cubs that had broken into a home.
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VAIL ” A black bear sow and her cubs were tranquilized Thursday after the cubs broke through a screen door and entered a condo in search of food on Garmisch Drive in West Vail.

The residents were not home when the bears entered the condo around 11 a.m. through a door at the rear of the home. The two seven-month old cubs knocked over several plants inside and ate bread and cashews before holing up in a bathroom, where they were tranquilized.

The two were set outside to draw the mother bear, who had been nervously pacing the hillside behind the condo as a group of people looked on. When the mother bear closed in on the cubs around 5 p.m., wildlife officers also shot her with a tranquilizer gun.



The cubs were carried to a trailer and placed in a cage. Shortly thereafter the sow was moved into an identical cage. All three were hosed down with water to keep them cool.

The condo resident, who wished to remain anonymous, arrived at his home well into the incident. Shortly after the bears were taken away he took stock of the damage done to his home.



“It does surprise me,” he said. “You never think it’s going to be you.”

In the past months, the mother bear entered at least two other homes in search of food. The mother ” about 7-years-old and weighing 250 pounds ” was deemed dangerous to humans because she became accustomed to human food.

Wildlife officers plan to euthanize the mother bear with a solution of potassium chloride at their Glenwood Springs office, said John Broderick, terrestrial biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.



“She’s by consensus a dangerous nuisance animal,” Broderick said, adding even if the bear were relocated 150 miles away, it would have come back.

“It’s truly a shame it came to this,” said Detective Ryan Millbern, who deals with bear problems for the town of Vail. “The death of this bear was caused because people left their trash out.”

Broderick recommended people do something to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“If people are upset about this … the message is to break this cycle,” Broderick said. “Put garbage away and make sure your house is locked. We could probably do with a lot more help from the humans.”

The two cubs will be sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center in Silt, where they will be forced into hibernation and then placed in a wild den in January, Broderick said. The cubs will wake up in spring and go out on their own. The cubs would have been weaned by their mother next spring anyway, he said.

“This way the cubs have a chance rather than becoming trash animals,” Broderick said.

Rehabilitation at the center has worked all but two times, Broderick said.

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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