Bears still around Aspen and hungry | VailDaily.com

Bears still around Aspen and hungry

Jason Auslander, Aspen Times
Bears hang out in the top of a Blue Spruce in Aspen on Thursday, October 10, 2019. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

While temperatures are dropping and snow is on the ground, city of Aspen as well as state officials warned residents this week that bears haven’t gone into hibernation yet and not to become complacent.

Hyperphagia — or “fat bear season” — is this time of year when bears get “the instinctive ‘feeding frenzy’ to pack on the pounds before winter hibernation,” according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Rebecca Ferrell.

“Bear activity in Aspen is still at a record high and expected to climb as bears are in hyperphagia,” according to a Friday news release from the city of Aspen.

So far this year, the Aspen Police Department has received reports of 48 home intrusions by bears and 680 total bear calls, according to the city. In September, city police received nine bear home intrusion reports and 175 total bear-related calls, according to Kendall Jahnke, APD’s records manager.

Ten Aspen businesses and buildings — mainly in the downtown core — were cited by the city in September for unsecured trash or other bear-related citations, according to Jahnke. Two restaurants have been cited so far in October.

Last year, there was a better food source in the mountains and APD responded to just 170 calls. But in 2017 when there was a late freeze, Aspen police responded to 913 bear calls from spring to fall. In 2016, police responded to 204 bear calls.

Bears need more than 20,000 calories a day, which translates to 20 chicken sandwiches, 10 large orders of fries, 10 soft drinks and 10 milkshakes every day for months, CPW officials said this past week.

“It’s no wonder, then, that bears often look for an easy meal in human trash, bird feeders and other unnatural attractants,” said a CPW news release.

Officials continue to urge residents to secure their trash and recyclables for the coming weeks before winter.