People may prove perilous for bears |

People may prove perilous for bears

Kelley Cox/Post Independent file photoA young black bear attracted attention when it was attracted to trash cans in a Glenwood Springs neighborhood. Wildlife officials say trash left outside too long may result in the deaths of bears in the HIgh Country.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A failure by some humans to change their ways could lead to the deaths of some bears hanging around West Glenwood, a state wildlife official has warned.

A mother and her three cubs are making a habit of feeding on trash that’s not properly secured by people, and another adult bear also has been feeding on garbage, Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said.

“Trash has gotten out of hand in West Glenwood. We’ve kind of reached a frustration level in terms of dealing with some of the issues up there,” Hampton said. “People are just not taking care of the trash and ultimately it’s going to mean bad things for bears.”

Under the wildlife agency’s “two-strike” policy, bears are killed after they are relocating for causing problems.

The problem in West Glenwood has been going on for about two weeks and has been pretty widespread in areas outside city limits. Officials are worried that the bears may become emboldened and eventually pose a threat to humans.

Glenwood Springs has law about how people handle trash during bear season, such as not putting it out the night before pickup unless it’s in a bear-proof container. Those living in unincorporated parts of Garfield County aren’t bound by such an ordinance.

“But that doesn’t take away their obligation to not be lazy and try to live with wildlife,” Hampton said.

He also noted that it’s against state law to feed big game, including bears. Technically, people who refuse to deal with a garbage problem and continue to have bears raiding their trash are violating the law, Hampton said.

Glewnood resident Dennis Bader became one of the agency’s Bear Aware volunteers this year and has spent several evenings walking around West Glenwood, trying to convince people to take care of their trash.

Some continue creating temptations for bears, he said.

“There’s people that are just sloppy and there people that are just ignoring it and then there are people I believe are doing it purposely because they want to see the bears, which I think is a really bad situation,” he said.

Another problem has been that residents haven’t called the police or the Division of Wildlife the first time they have problems with bears, Hampton said.

If a week goes by before the agency hears of a bear getting into trash, that makes it harder to work to keep the problem from getting worse, Hampton said.

Ultimately, wildlife officers don’t like destroying bears.

“The worst part of the job is when the time comes that you realize that people have done the bear such a disservice that to protect people’s safety you’ve got to put down a bear,” he said.

Allan Bowles, who lives on Mitchell Creek Road in West Glenwood, said he saw what was probably a 2-year-old bear by his barn a few days ago but it wasn’t causing any harm. While he said bears sometimes feed from his fruit trees, he’s careful not to put his trash out until the morning it is picked up.

“I’ve had no problems. I don’t have any outside trash, I don’t have any bird feeders or anything else,” he said.

Bader said a lot of people are conscientious when it comes to bears. “Ninety-nine percent of the people out there can be good and watch it and all it takes is three or four people (being careless) and you’ve got a real problem,” Bader said.

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