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Trash in Glenwood Springs causing more bear conflicts than usual

A problem bear in the Cowdin Drive area of Glenwood Springs rummages through trash and food in an open dumpster.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Glenwood Springs is seeing more bear conflicts than any other area in the Roaring Fork Valley.

That’s according to Dan Cacho, Colorado Parks and Wildlife game warden for Glenwood Springs.

“Glenwood is probably the busiest area from Vail to Aspen for bears. I don’t exactly know why,” Cacho said Wednesday.



“It’s usually Aspen — they’re usually the busiest, but for this year it seems to be Glenwood. I don’t know if it’s food availability or just trash being so readily available.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife game warden Dan Cacho documents a knocked-over trashcan that a bear recently rummaged through near downtown Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Cacho conservatively estimated that there are six to seven bears using Glenwood Springs for food on any given night.



To try to limit bear activity in town, Cacho said the best thing to do is to try following city ordinances in place that call for residents to secure their trash so bears can’t get into it.

A problem bear in the Cowdin Drive area of Glenwood Springs runs away with food in its mouth after rummaging through an open dumpster.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“We’re still seeing a lot of trash left out,” Cacho said. “There was an example of a trash can knocked over. It was just left outside with trash in it, and it could have easily been stored in the garage. With food so readily available, it just ends up being an easy target for bears.”

Cacho said he’s not sure if there’s a case of a mother bear teaching cubs and yearlings to use town for food, or if it’s a few loner bears causing the ruckus.

“Sometimes I suspect that we have a few people potentially feeding bears,” Cacho said.

“I can’t prove that, but if people are doing that, they truly are forcing our hand with bears.”

Cacho said there was a bear that got into a Glenwood Springs apartment Tuesday.

“If we catch that bear, we’ll have to euthanize it,” Cacho said.

Cacho said people definitely need to store their trash in a bear resistant container, in their garage or haul it out to the dump.

“People really need to do better than what we’re currently doing,” Cacho said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife game warden Dan Cacho documents a knocked-over trashcan that a bear recently rummaged through near downtown Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“The city has issued over 30 tickets to people just this spring and early summer for failing to secure their trash. In my mind, that’s unacceptable. At the end of the day, we’re going to have to put bears down if people don’t do this.”

The option to relocate isn’t typically feasible either, Cacho said.

“A lot of times we get people commenting on why we can’t relocate these bears as if it’s a cure-all for this,” Cacho said.

“Wherever we take these bears in the wild to relocate them is generally good bear habitat. Many times those bears already on the landscape are more dominant bears and probably killing or chasing these bears we’re relocating. Then they get hit on the interstate trying to get back home. So it’s not the perfect solution that people think it is.”

Tips on how to keep bears away from your property

Close garage doors at all times when not in the immediate area.

Lock doors and windows at night and when leaving your property.

Replace garage doors’ latch-style locks/lever handles with round door knobs and sturdy locks. Replace single-pane windows with double pane or install grates.

Relocate refrigerator/freezer attractants and food of any type, including canned goods, to a secure area of the house; a sturdy, locked building; or bear-proof garage.

Replace panel doors with solid wood or metal doors.

Burn-off food residue and clean grease can after each use of a barbecue grill.

Store grills inside a sturdy, locked building (except propane).

Put trash out only the morning of pickup.

Bring cans back inside before dark.

Disinfect cans regularly with ammonia or bleach cleaners (pine scent is OK — no fruity or lemon odors).

 


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