Eagle Valley residents report uptick in bear sightings | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley residents report uptick in bear sightings

A bear munches on some crabapples near a residential neighborhood.
Enterprise file photo |

About a month ago, Eagle resident Jane Tully thought one of her neighbors was wandering around after dark when she spotted a flashlight beam near her back yard.

Turns out, it was an Eagle policeman and the reason for his visit was a bear in the area. The officer was able to chase the animal away from the trash can where he had been foraging, but the bear simply found another can sitting street side a bit farther down the road.

Tully was dismayed by the incident, knowing that the animal would likely pay the price for lack of human judgment.

“I think it would be a good idea for the town to be more proactive about bear issues,” she noted. “If the town has money for a water park, I think they should be look at doing something about bear proof trash cans. I don’t think people should have bears walking into their homes before the town does something.”

According to Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney, Eagle has studied its bear encounter incidents. Not surprisinging, large commercial dumpsters located near restaurants report the most bear visits.

“But other than that, oddly enough, there is not a real pattern,” said Stavney. “Eagle Ranch is not much of an issue, and it is closest to the bear habitat.”

Stavney noted that Eagle Ranch mandates that trash cans be kept inside garages until the morning of pickup, which likely cuts down on bear activity.

“It’s just good practice to put trash out in the mornings because the critters all come out at night,” he said.

Stavney noted that a plan to switch over to bear proof trash containers town wide would be a very expensive proposition, for both the town and for residents.

However, Colorado Parks and Wildlife does offer the following simple precautions people can take to avoid conflicts with bears:

Clean garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free.

If you don’t have secure storage, put items that might become smelly into the freezer until trash day.

If you use a dumpster, make sure that it can’t be opened by a bear.

Don’t leave pet food outside.

Secure compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food — and they’ll eat anything.

Allow grills to run for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors. Clean the grill after each use.

Clean-up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck. Don’t allow food odors to linger.

If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to rot on the ground. Electric fences provide good protections for small orchards.

Keep garage doors closed.

Keep the bottom floor windows of your house closed when you’re not at home, and at night.

Keep doors locked, especially if your home has door handles that bears can push down easily.

If you see a bear in your neighborhood make it feel unwelcome by making noise or throwing things at it. But stay at a safe distance and never approach the animal.

Do not keep food in your vehicle; lock vehicle doors.

Talk to your neighbors and kids about being bear aware.

For more information, go to the Living with Wildlife section on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website: cpw.state.co.us.

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