Rescued Aspen bear back in the woods | VailDaily.com

Rescued Aspen bear back in the woods

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Lindsay SmithThe yearling bear rescued from the back of Aspen Mountain, shortly after its capture.

ASPEN – The tiny, yearling bear rescued off the back of Aspen Mountain last March has been returned to the woods.

The bear’s plight – it weighed just 13 pounds and was near death when an unidentified woman plucked the animal from near Midnight Mine Road – captured local interest. It tipped the scale at close to 65 pounds when it was transported for release on Friday, said a volunteer at the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation’s rehabilitation center near Silt.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officials took the bear to a spot in the high country, between Boulder and Estes Park on the Front Range, according to Randy Hampton, DOW spokesman.

“We hopes it hangs out in the woods,” he said.

Though the bear barely outweighed a 10-pound sack of potatoes when it was rescued, it was already a year old. It had been fed – “people were dumping food along the road,” Hampton said – but it was ill an unable to keep food down.

It was brought to the Aspen Animal Shelter and then taken to the rehabilitation center, but spent time in a veterinary hospital before it was healthy enough for rehabilitation.

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Because the bear was rescued from the backcountry, she isn’t considered a nuisance bruin that has already been in trouble, Hampton said.

“It’s tagged as a rehabilitated bear. It wasn’t given a strike,” he said.

Under the DOW’s two-strike policy, a nuisance bear that has already been picked up and transported elsewhere after getting into trouble is typically euthanized if it gets into trouble again. The Aspen bear is starting her new life with no strikes against her so far, Hampton said.

The bear left the rehabilitation center with a healthy dislike for her human caregivers, according to the volunteer. That’s the whole idea, as the center doesn’t want wild animals slated for release to become accustomed to people.

“She was not happy to be around people and was fairly nasty,” the volunteer said.

“That’s exactly what we’re looking for,” Hampton said.

The wildlife center relies on contributions to fund its operations and seeks funding from Aspen and other jurisdictions that send it bears. Go to http://www.schneegaswildlifefoundation.org/ for more on the foundation and rehabilitation center.

janet@aspentimes.com