Black Bears Make Their Way Back Into Aspen

Jul 29, 2014

Two bears are spotted along the Hyman Avenue Mall in Aspen in 2007. This year the bear activity is picking up because berries aren't yet ripe in the high country.
Credit aspenpitkin.com

Bears are increasingly being drawn into Aspen this summer as their natural foods up high are late to bloom. Early Sunday a black bear swiped at a woman in a downtown alley. And, the number of bear-related calls to police have spiked in July. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

So far in 2014, the Aspen Police Department has handled 150 calls, from bears digging through garbage to questions about local trash laws. Five callers reported bears breaking into homes. Police Department spokesperson Blair Weyer says so far it’s a moderate year for bear activity.

"Last year we only had 52 calls the whole year and that was a very slow year for us, there was great food up high. But, two years ago when we had an extremely busy summer, we had over 1000 calls for the whole year, so I’d say we’re definitely under that average."

Because snow in the mountains melted late, serviceberries and chokecherries aren’t ripe enough to eat. So, the bears are turning to garbage often left unsecured outside of restaurants and homes.

The bear that swiped at a woman Sunday was likely dining on trash earlier that night, where a crowd taking pictures spooked it. When it’s found, Weyer says the bear will likely be put down.

"There are cases, like this one, if the bear has harmed a human being and they are located and identified, they can be euthanized immediately. So, it’s unfortunate and in speaking with the woman involved in this incident, she wants people to know this isn’t a good ending for this bear."

One goal of the police department is protect bears so, they advise people to steer clear of these wild animals and give them space. The business that left out garbage that initially attracted the bear was ticketed for breaking the City’s trash laws.