Routt County bears waking up, police respond to first calls of the season |

Routt County bears waking up, police respond to first calls of the season

Scott Franz/Steamboat Today
A black bear sits in a tree between Eighth and Ninth Streets along Pine Street in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Matt Stensland/Steamboat Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — They’re waking up, and they’re very hungry.

Black bears in Steamboat Springs are also starting to become the subject of police calls after one of them reportedly snuck into someone’s basement on Mira Vista Court around 2 a.m. Saturday.

Officers later found the bear had left the basement and wandered down the street.

Meanwhile, Steamboat police are reminding residents its’ time to start taking precautions to help ensure the bears stay out of trouble.

“We have been doing some proactive pre-season stuff including putting warnings on trash cans that have been out during restricted times,” Steamboat Police Commander Jerry Stabile said Monday. “We’re trying to give everyone a heads up the season is upon us.”

It’s that time of year for residents to make sure their car doors are locked, their garages are closed at night and their trash is secured.

City codes require residents to keep trash containers that aren’t bear resistant inside between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Residents who get cited for not following the trash rules will be required to upgrade to a wildlife-resistant container.

“Our biggest thing is, if there’s one house on a block that’s not doing it right, it’s not going to help solve our problem,” Stabile said. “It has to be an all for one.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Manager Kris Middledorf said Monday that bear activity in Steamboat has been relatively quiet so far this season.

He’s heard some anecdotal reports of bears getting into garbage, mostly dumpsters in the Old Town area.

But he said, with natural food sources for bears being scarce right now, any bears that are coming out of hibernation could be drawn toward human food sources and trash if they aren’t secured properly.

“We need to do everything we can so we can protect these animals,” he said. “We don’t want to see them relocated or killed.”

Middledorf recommended that residents forgo having bird feeders out this time of year because the birds don’t need any supplemental feeding and bears can be drawn to the feeders.

Barbecue grills should also be kept clean or stored inside.

In addition, he said residents should remember to close their garage doors at night and lock their home and car doors because bears can be attracted to the food that is left inside.

But even closing the garage doors hasn’t ensured that bears won’t get in.

Middledorf noted there have been cases of bears physically breaking into garages in recent years.

Utilizing a wildlife-resistant trash container inside a garage or avoiding keeping any food in the garage at all, helps keep the food odors down and decreases the chance a bear will go after it, he said.

The state also advises residents who store food inside garages to invest in stronger doors to keep the wild animals out.

“I think the number one thing we can do is keep our trash in a bear-resistant trash container and in a garage or shed until the morning of pick up,” Middledorf said. “Having a 300-pound black bear roaming around town with kids getting on and off school buses is not the best thing.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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