Bear activity picks up in Steamboat Springs | CraigDailyPress.com

Bear activity picks up in Steamboat Springs

Matt Stensland

— Steamboat Springs resident Butch Bowers was not planning on reinforcing his garage with plywood Thursday morning, but it needed to be done.

Overnight a bear pried open the bottom panel of the door about 2 feet and got into trash inside the garage off Yahmonite Street near Soda Creek.

"They've got to be living close by, but I don't know where," Bowers said. "This has been going on for years and years."

While Bowers was making repairs, Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Steve Baumgartner arrived with a bear trap, and he baited a rag inside with a sweet concoction of bear lure.

"Bears are definitely coming through this corridor," Baumgartner said near a game trail going up into the woods.

Bear season is in full swing in Steamboat, and with that comes a constant battle for local Parks and Wildlife officers, who field calls from residents who witness the shenanigans of the local bear population.

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"We really need people to take care of their trash and not leave bird feeders out or even spread birdseed," Baumgartner said. "Steamboat as a whole needs to fix the trash problem."

Baumgartner said bear activity started earlier this year because of a mild spring. He said that overall, they are dealing with an average number of bear-related issues. There have yet to be any reports of bears getting into homes in search of food, though one bear poked its head through a screen. The bear was scared away when it knocked over a lamp.

While traps have been set, wildlife officers have not yet caught any bears.

Baumgartner said there are at least four bears in the Yahmonite area that are causing problems. Bear reports also have come in from the area of Central Park Plaza.

"They're all trash bears," Baumgartner said.

About three weeks ago, there was a rather tragic bear incident in the Brooklyn neighborhood. A juvenile bear reportedly was getting into trash, and a neighbor tried to scare it off by shooting it with a pellet gun. The bear died after one of the pellets punctured the bear's hide, went between two ribs and went into the lung.

"A pellet gun can and will kill wildlife," Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner said the resident was very upset he had killed the bear.

The resident was given a summons to appear in court for careless discharge of a firearm. He faces a fine of between $100 and $1,000. Baumgartner said the resident could have been cited for the unlawful taking of a black bear out of season, which carries a fine of between $500 and $5,000.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland