Local wildlife officials hopeful of no big bear problems this year | CraigDailyPress.com

Local wildlife officials hopeful of no big bear problems this year

Scott Franz
A black bear jumps out of a trash bin in 2011 at the Selbe Apartments on Rollingstone Drive. As bears become more active around town, wildlife officials are stressing the ways residents can help keep them out of trouble.
Courtesy Photo

Reporting bear sightings

Not every bear deserves to be ratted out to authorities via a 911 call, officials said.

Bears that are minding their own business or not posing a threat do not need to be reported.

However, bears that are getting into trash, appear aggressive or that pose some sort of threat should be reported.

Non-emergent reports can be made by calling Routt County Communications at 970-879-1090.

— The black bears that have woken up from a long slumber near Steamboat Springs so far are staying out of trouble, local wildlife officials said Tuesday.

But with a few bears already starting to get into trash cans and others getting close enough to town to show up in photos, officials again are urging residents and visitors here to take some steps to keep the animals safe.

The biggest things include keeping trash secured, cleaning barbecue grills after use and taking bird feeders in at night or suspending them altogether.

But for all the measures people take, officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it is inevitable some bears will come close to homes.

“Right now, they’re really into vegetation like those glacier lilies,” District Wildlife Manager Danielle Isenhart said.

She said even after residents remove the other things that attract bears, they will go after flowers and other vegetation.

Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said bears here should have been in good shape going into their dens this winter.

He said with the abundant moisture, officials also suspect it will be a good berry year, meaning the animals will have less of a reason to wander into town for food.

“The good news is if we have a good forage year, the bears we’re going to be dealing with are our town bears, and we won’t be having wild bears moving in,” Haskins said. “We’ll be dealing with the same bears we’re normally dealing with.”

He said predicting bear activity always is a “crap shoot,” but he doesn’t anticipate any more problems with bears than in previous years.

Much will depend on the weather and how responsive the public is to helping ensure bears stay out of trouble.

Bears who continue to get into trouble by doing such things as getting into homes or being aggressive while scrounging for food can face relocation.

That was the case last year for a 2-year-old male bear who was suspected of breaking into cars in Steamboat.

Wildlife officers said the bear was one of two that might have been responsible for getting into cars and causing damage.

Haskins said relocation can end up being hard or fatal for bears.

“We don’t like to move ’em,” Haskins said. “We just don’t have a lot of good places to put bears.”

He said the only suitable places officials have to take them require a day’s trip to get there.

Even then, he said, the survival rate of bears that are moved is low because many get into trouble again and some are killed by property owners or sheepherders after they attack valuable livestock.

“A lot of people think (moving them) is the go-to. But it’s not a good alternative,” Haskins said. “Nobody is clamoring for us to bring them bears.”

For a full list of tips to keep bears wild, read more below.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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