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Bear worrying Blue River

BLUE RIVER – Don’t feed the bears.

That’s the message Colorado Division of Wildlife district wildlife manager Tom Kroening wants people to heed, particularly in Blue River, where residents have been complaining about a young bear they believe has been orphaned by its mother.

That isn’t the case, Kroening said.



“It’s old enough to be on its own,” he said. “It’s just that time of year.”

The bear is a light honey color and reported to weigh between 30 and 80 pounds. Kroening suspects its true weight to be heavier.



If the bear were orphaned, wildlife officials would help it get through its first summer and release it into a denning spot in the winter. Young bears come out on their own in the spring.

Black bears – which can range in color from black to a light honey brown or cinnamon – typically give birth to two cubs in the winter. The cubs stay with the mother through the summer, during which time she weans them and teaches them how find food and fend for themselves. Usually, the cubs leave in the fall, although it is not uncommon for a cub to stay with its mother through another winter.

Kroening said another reason he doesn’t think this bear has been orphaned is that there have been no reports of a bear being struck by a car or of a hunter killing one in the area. Hunters are required to file a report with the Division of Wildlife after killing a bear, Kroening said.

This bear, which has been spotted in the area between Blue River and Blue Lakes Road along Hoosier Pass, likely is accustomed to people because a Placer Valley resident trapped it, thinking it was an orphan. Once released, the bear migrated over the pass to Summit County on its own.

“That’s probably one of the worst things you can do,” Kroening said of trapping wild animals. “It gets the bear interested in coming to food and people. The people thought we’d want to take it and raise it until it’s ready to be on its own. It is ready to be on its own.”

Kroening said he’s heard that some people have started leaving food for the bear, thinking it can’t find enough on its own.

“He can find food and hibernation sites without mom,” he said. “It just needs people to leave it alone and not feed it. One thing we don’t want to do is get people starting bad habits. That’ll shorten the bear’s lifespan.”

Wildlife officials had to kill a bear they found in a Silverthorne home in August because they had tagged the bear twice already. Bears are tagged and relocated if they cause problems, but they only get two chances before officials must destroy them.

Several communities throughout Colorado have enacted laws to reduce human and bear interactions.

Ordinances in Blue River prohibit people from leaving food out that might attract bears and require people put trash in bear-proof containers. Residents in other areas of the county should not be surprised to see bears out this time of year. Among the areas where they are found most often are Wildernest, Peaks 7 and 8 in Breckenridge and on the western edge of Frisco.

“Even little bears can tear up a normal dog kennel,” Kroening said. “They’re very powerful animals. They’re deceiving.”

The bears soon will be disappearing into their winter dens. Bears go into hibernation at the end of October but will delay that to November – and in extreme cases, December – if they haven’t been able to put on enough fat to get them through the winter.

“This year, the berries ripened up early and we had no early freeze like we have had the past two years,” Kroening said. “But later, the berries dried up. We still had problems because bears learned how to find food in those last two years. We still get calls about bears coming into subdivisions.”

For more information, contact wildlife officials at (970) 725-6200.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

If You See a Bear:

? Do not yell at bears; they see this as a challenge.

? Do not run; instead, put your hands above your head to make yourself look as large as

possible. Slowly back away to a safe distance, at which point you can turn around and quickly leave the area.

? When hiking, wear bells on your shoes or backpack to alert bears to your presence. Bears don’t like contact with people and will try to avoid them.

? When outside, be aware of noises in the woods such as crunching twigs and rustling underbrush. If a bear is grunting and hopping to get up on its back legs, that’s a warning. Retreat. If a bear is standing on its back feet, it is more likely sniffing the air to get a better idea of what’s in the area than gearing up for an attack.

? When cooking, close windows and doors. If the smell can get out, the bear can get in.

? Keep a close eye on children and pets when they’re outside.

? Barbecue grills should be brought inside after use or cleaned of grease and other debris that attracts bears.

? Keep trash indoors until the morning of trash pickup.

? Do not attempt to address a bear problem yourself. Report all bear encounters to local law enforcement or the Colorado Division of Wildlife.


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