Photo by John F. Russell
With the first reported bear sighting of 2010 this week, it won’t be long before sows and their cubs begin to emerge from hibernation across Steamboat Springs and Routt County.
Steamboat Springs Mild weather and rapidly melting snow have roused some of Steamboat Springs’ furriest residents, as the first reported bear sighting of the year was called in Tuesday from near the Colorado Mountain College campus.
Colorado Division of Wildlife area wildlife manager Jim Haskins said it’s no surprise that bears will start appearing at familiar places across town as they wake from hibernation.
“Once we start getting these kind of days where you get warm days and you see melting and snow storms and melting … the first bears typically that come out are males,” he said. “So it’s likely this is a male and usually the sows and cubs come out a little later.”
The bear was reported near CMC’s Alpine Campus, in the 1300 block of Bob Adams Drive. Steamboat Springs Police Department Sgt. Rich Brown said the bear ran off as soon as officers arrived but not before he had torn through some trash cans.
Haskins said it’s important for people to take care of their trash, and the DOW is keeping track of the areas bears seem to return to.
“We want to know where there are human food sources that the bears are actively utilizing because we need to get them cleaned up,” he said.
Aspen and some other ski resort communities are experiencing large-scale bear problems as the animals get used to foraging in trash and relying on humans for food, Haskins said, and it’s important for Steamboat to prevent that from happening here.
“We’re right there on the cusp of having the same problems we have in Aspen and Vail,” he said.
Last year, the DOW removed two cubs from the Steamboat area after their mother taught them bad habits about gathering food in town. They spent the winter at a rehabilitation facility near Rifle, learning to forage and not rely on humans for food. Within a few months, Haskins said they will release those bears back into the wild in Routt County at a secret location, away from town.
“We’ve had real good success in rehabbing some of these cubs and releasing them and not having them cause trouble again,” he said.
Bears are all across Routt County, Haskins said, but the first sightings usually are made at Steamboat Ski Area.
Moose remain prevalent
Moose sightings continue within Steamboat Springs city limits, something that is becoming increasingly common.
“We know there’s a lot of moose around now in the different drainages coming into town,” Haskins said. “We’re seeing more and more moose in town all the time.”
A Steamboat Today reader submitted photos of two moose spotted on the Valley View ski run earlier this month. The reader said the cow and her calf paced back and forth on the trail for a few minutes before finally finding a way around two skiers waiting to descend the mountain.
Haskins said it’s important for people to keep their distance from moose, especially if they have their dogs with them.
“Moose will act very aggressively toward dogs,” he said. “It’s a genetic thing. They probably associate dogs with wolves, their main natural predator.”
Haskins said moose can be found in nearly every drainage leading into Steamboat, and sightings have become so common that many people no longer call when they see one. As people become more comfortable seeing moose in town, however, they should remember to not invade the animals’ “comfort zone.”
“Give them a lot of room; don’t try to get close to them,” he said.