Humans luring bears to West Vail |

Humans luring bears to West Vail

J.K. Perry
Bears will not come searching for human food if garbage is secured where they can't get to it, a wildlife official says.

VAIL ” People upset with attempts to kill a bear in West Vail should spread the word about storing food in way that doesn’t attract the animals, a wildlife official said.

That way, the bears won’t become problems that have be eradicated, said Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Division of Wildlife officers searched unsuccessfully for the bear on Monday and Tuesday. Officers were not looking for the bear Wednesday, but traps had been set for it.

“If people are upset about it then it’s time as citizens they take responsibility” by storing trash and educating other people about bears, Hampton said. “People can be as angry as they want, but that’s not going to solve the problem.

“It’s really pretty chicken to confront our guys doing the job (in West Vail). The reality is they didn’t cause the problem, the residents did. And I know it’s not all the residents, it’s a couple.”

The most recent problem began in over the last several days when a black bear sow, who has two cubs, entered at least two West Vail homes in search of food. In one instance, the bear “bluff charged” an occupant of one of the homes.

Hampton said he suspects trash lured the bears into the neighborhood. Because the bear is accustomed to humans and human food, it has been deemed dangerous.

Dangerous bears are killed under Division of Wildlife policy. Problem bears such as the one in West Vail aren’t relocated because they will return to human sources of food.

“We find that a majority of those relocated bears end up coming back or go somewhere else,” Hampton said.

If the sow’s cubs have learned to eat human food from their mother or remain with her long enough before capture to learn to eat human food, they also will be killed, Hampton said. Otherwise, the cubs might be rehabilitated and then re-released into the wild, Hampton said.

Vail law requires garbage-filled containers to be secured in a manner that does not attract wildlife.

Garbage removal services sell or lease containers to keep bears out of garbage. Vail Honeywagon sells containers for $145, and they have become popular in the past two years in Vail, said Byron Harrington, operation manager for Vail Honeywagon.

“We just need to keep making people aware,” he said.

Waste Management leases containers, but prices were unavailable because a company official did not immediately return a phone message.

One Vail resident said containers designed to keep bears out should be readily provided to residents.

“If (bears) didn’t smell the garbage in the trash cans, they wouldn’t be here,” Matterhorn resident Richelle Curran said. “At eight or nine o’clock, you can’t take a walk without taking a look around. We need a better standard of trash cans for the public because they’re putting us at risk.”

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or

Vail, Colorado

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