First spring bears spotted in High Country |

First spring bears spotted in High Country

ASPEN, Colorado ” Springtime in the Colorado mountains doesn’t necessarily bring only flowers, birds and bees. It can bring out the bears, too.

A woman in Pitkin County reported Thursday that a small bear had been on her porch, peeking in her window. Re Re Baker, animal safety officer with the sheriff’s department, told the woman to spray the bear with a hose to discourage it from returning.

“It’s the first bear call I’ve gotten,” Baker said. “Hopefully we won’t get another for a while.”

It’s early for bears to be emerging from hibernation. The snow is still deep in the mountains and temperatures are mostly below freezing.

Last year, the Aspen area was besieged by bears as the bruins dug through trash cans and invaded homes looking for food. A spring freeze followed by dry weather wiped out much of the bears’ natural fare: berries and acorns.

Statewide, the Colorado Division of Wildlife killed a record 59 bears that threatened people or had to be moved more than once. The previous record was 55 bears in 2002.

Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said it is early for bears to start roaming around, but it’s not unusual for a couple bears to wander out if they’ve been disturbed. He said a female bear and three young bears have been seen around the Aspen Highlands mountain.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” Hampton said . “We don’t want to have a year like last year.”

Hampton said the outlook is better this year because of the heavy snows.

“We’ve been in a cycle for seven years where we didn’t have enough moisture to adequately feed the spring growth,” Hampton said. “Now we need to get through the spring without a killing frost. If mother nature can warm things up slowly and consistently, that would be optimal.”

Even when bears start leaving their dens, they typically spend a couple weeks drinking water and warming themselves before they begin their normal feeding.

Aspen and Pitkin County passed laws last year cracking down on people who don’t use bear-resistant trash cans. They distributed information on coexisting with bears.

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