Traps set for hungry bears in Vail Valley |

Traps set for hungry bears in Vail Valley

Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyA female black bear was spotted on Beaver Creek Mountain in 2008. There have been several bear break-ins at Beaver Creek homes so far this spring.

VAIL – The bears are awake in the Vail Valley, and they are looking for food.

There have already been several bear break-ins in Beaver Creek over the past several weeks, said Randy Hampton of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

“Activity is on the rise,” Hampton said.

So far this year, bear activity has been normal in the Eagle County area, Hampton said.

It’s hard to say whether there’s going to be plentiful natural food for bears this summer, and it’s too early to say if there are going to be lots of problems with bears in town this year, officials say.

Two traps have been set in Beaver Creek to try to catch the bears that are breaking into homes, Hampton said. He added that he didn’t know where the traps are set nor how many bear break-ins there had been in the area.

“People really need to lock their doors and windows,” Hampton said. “People are leaving these ground-floor windows open, and then go out for a jog or hike and they come back, and there’s a bear in the house. You might as well send printed invitations.

“People have to stop doing that because we’re going to end up with bears getting killed because they are getting into houses.”

In addition, residents need to make sure they put out trash only on the day it is being picked up, Hampton said. Several municipalities already have laws mandating that people do just that.

Vail enacted laws requiring bear-resistant and bear-proof trash cans after the summer of 2006, when two bears were euthanized and two were relocated after they entered local homes. The laws seemed to help keep bears from coming into Vail to get food.

But last year, bear sightings spiked because wet spring weather disrupted the bears’ natural food supply. The wet spring created an “apple rust,” which infected the berry crops that bears eat in the wild.

There were 222 police calls last year in Vail involving bears, compared to only 51 in 2008. Last year, the Vail Police issued 14 summonses and 152 warnings for violations related to wildlife.

There have been sightings in the golf course area, the Spruce Way area of East Vail and the Beaver Dam Road area, said Vail Police Officer Ryan Millbern.

Some construction workers got a little “freaked out” when they saw a bear in a tree across from a construction site on Beaver Dam Road, Millbern said.

“They clearly didn’t have much experience with bears in the mountains, so they called us to help them out,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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