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Bears in Aspen on another July tear

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado – A surprise guest caused a stink at GrassRoots Community Television in Aspen on Monday night.

When employees arrived to work the next morning, they discovered that a black bear had pooped and peed in the front office, scarfed down some Doritos, had its way with the refrigerator and tossed a file cabinet.

Just another day in what is turning out to be a busy bear season in Aspen.

From July 1 through July 21, the Aspen Police Department had fielded 87 bear calls – up from the eight calls during the same period last year.

Complete data was not available for July 2007, one of Aspen’s banner summers for bear visits. But according to Stephanie Dasaro, spokeswoman for the Aspen Police Department, there were 45 bear calls from July 18-25 that year.

During the summer of 2007, bears came to Aspen looking for food because the berry crop on which they depend had been destroyed in late June by frostbite. This year, the berry supply is in fine shape – they’re just not ripe yet.

“That’s the problem,” Dasaro said.

With bears becoming frequent visitors to Aspen and the rest of Pitkin County, four traps have been set up in various locations, said Kevin Wright, the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s wildlife manager.

Three days ago a bear was euthanized, Wright said, after getting its second “strike.”

In Colorado, when a bear breaks into a home – a “first strike” – the bear is trapped and relocated; in the case of a repeat offense the animal is euthanized.

Last Wednesday, a bear that hit up the Main Street Bakery’s outdoor dining area at approximately 1 p.m. was collared and relocated, Dasaro said. The bear is 16 years old, Dasaro said.

Dasaro said local business and residents need to be diligent about keeping doors and windows closed and locked, and their trash bins secure. She also said the police department will visit homeowners and business operators if they are concerned about their security.

Wright said he thinks the bears will head for higher ground once the berries ripen. Right now they’re turning red, but it’s not until they turn purple that the bears will move in. He expects the berries to be ready in about two weeks.

“There have been a lot of conflicts, but it looks like we’ll have a good berry crop,” he said. “Right now people just need to make sure to lock their doors and windows and secure their trash.”

Allison said the backdoor at the TV station, located in the Red Brick Center for the Arts on Bleeker Street, was left ajar, apparently setting up an easy invasion for the bear.

“Usually we leave that door locked, but this time we didn’t,” Allison said. “We won’t do that again.”

She said GrassRoots employees were thankful the bruin didn’t unleash its wrath on the station’s technical equipment and other valuables.

Also puzzling was that the furry intruder somehow overlooked the bag of Cheetos that were stashed in the desk of John Masters, the station’s executive director. Not to mention some beer in the fridge, noted Allison.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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