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Burglar bear tracked, killed

Sharon Baruch Mordo/Special to the DailyThis bear family, which was captured in Beaver Creek and moved to western Colorado two weeks ago, has reappeared at the resort.
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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” A bear that had broken into five homes in Beaver Creek was tracked and killed by Division of Wildlife officers over the weekend.

The nearly-300-pound bear tore the door off a home with people inside in Beaver Creek on Saturday in search of food, agency spokesman Randy Hampton said.

It’s been a problematic summer for bears in Beaver Creek, akin to what happened two years ago in Vail ” when two bears were euthanized and two were relocated ” Hampton said.

“The bears go where the trash is,” Hampton said. “And the trash is in Beaver Creek.”

Though Beaver Creek has stringent rules that require trash to be stored in wildlife-resistant containers, the Division of Wildlife is noting lots of trash there, at homes and business, that’s accessible to hungry bears, Hampton said.

The Beaver Creek burglar bear avoided traps that were set by the Division of Wildlife, Hampton said.

“It knew enough not to go into our traps,” Hampton said. “It would not go in the traps, so we actually tracked it and euthanized it.”

That usually involves using dogs to track it, a tranquilizer gun to catch it, and an injected drug to kill it, Hampton said.

Beaver Creek is one of two hot spots for bear problems this summer across northwest Colorado, Hampton said, adding that the Mesa-Collbran area east of Grand Junction is also seeing bears encounters.

On July 2, a mother and two cubs were trapped in Beaver Creek and relocated to Silt ” some 70 miles away ” after they broke into two homes. But, after less than three weeks, those bears have found their way back to Beaver Creek, having been spotted in the village, said Beaver Creek Resort Company Executive Director Tony O’Rourke.

There have been few bear break-ins in Beaver Creek this summer, O’Rourke said, but security guards are seeing more and more bears out and about in the village, he added.

“Bears in Creekside Park, bears spotted in the plaza,” O’Rourke said. “(Security personnel are) seeing more of that but are being more aggressive about pepper-spraying bears and driving them away. As a result, they don’t have an opportunity to break into as many properties.”

Beaver Creek Village is getting new trash cans that will better keep bears away, O’Rourke said. And Beaver Creek will continue to enforce trash rules it instituted in 2005 after there were some 100 bear home break-ins in 2004, he said.

Elsewhere in Colorado, there have been few bear problems, Hampton said, a stark contrast to the last few summers, when numerous bears were euthanized and trapped in Vail and in Pitkin County, which includes Aspen.

Vail passed strict trash laws after the summer of 2006, when there were several bear break-ins ” including one in which a bear swatted at an elderly woman in her kitchen as she was preparing a pot roast.

The new Vail trash rules seemed to reduce bear encounters, with few bear incidents occurring last summer. Again this summer, there seem to be few bear problems in Vail, Hampton said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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