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Parks and Wildlife wants to trap ankle-biting bear in Aspen

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

A Lazy Glen resident has rejected Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s request to put a trap in his backyard after a black bear purportedly clasped its jaw around the man’s ankle last week.

Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said attempts were made to place a trap on resident Peter Rizzuto’s lawn Thursday, but Rizzuto didn’t want one.

“I’m worried it might trap the wrong bear,” said Rizzuto, 77.

Porras said it’s Rizzuto’s right as a property tenant to not allow placement of the trap, but Porras said there are safety concerns.

“It could have been a very serious conflict,” Porras said.

Rizzuto said he was taking a nap on his deck Wednesday when an animal approached him. Rizzuto was half asleep when the bear — he initially thought it was a large dog, like a German shepherd — approached him. Soon enough, he learned the sizable critter wasn’t a neighborhood pet but a bear. The encounter was short-lived, and the bear didn’t break any skin on Rizzuto’s ankle, he said.

Rizzuto said the bear didn’t appear to be large.

On Thursday, he contacted Parks and Wildlife about the encounter.

Porras said the incident is problematic because the “bear obviously is not afraid of humans. And if it is walking up to humans and doing this, it would not be a big surprise if it did it again.”

Rizzuto’s small backyard is open, and children come and go in the area, he said. The bear hasn’t returned since the Wednesday incident and neighbors have been securing their trash.

Porras said Parks and Wildlife might consider placing a trap on a nearby public area if one is available, he said.

“The bottom line is, this is about human health and safety,” he said. “No one wants to put a bear down. But when a (black) bear is not afraid of humans or is approaching humans, that is a cause for concern.”

Colorado has a two-strike policy for black bears. Nuisance bears that are tagged twice by wildlife officers risk being put to death. Other problematic bruins are relocated.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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