The Colorado Division of Wildlife is posting informational signs, like this one at Tamarack Drive and Fish Creek Falls Road, in neighborhoods where bears have been spotted recently. The signs include pamphlets that outline how to avoid conflicts with bears and other wildlife.

Photo by Scott Franz

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is posting informational signs, like this one at Tamarack Drive and Fish Creek Falls Road, in neighborhoods where bears have been spotted recently. The signs include pamphlets that outline how to avoid conflicts with bears and other wildlife.

Routt County Communications burdened by bear calls

Director asks visitors, residents to call 911 only if they are in danger


— Shortly after they wake up from a winter slumber and edge closer to Dumpsters across town, the black bears and their escapades often go unreported. But come Memorial Day weekend, tourists and residents in Routt County constantly are calling out the bears they spy, sometimes unnecessarily.

“The tourists see a bear and some of them feel like they need to call 911,” Colorado Division of Wildlife area manager Jim Haskins said. “They cannot get a hold of dispatch because the only number they know is 911.”

Haskins said he thinks 99 percent of the bear calls that come in through the communications department are not emergencies. Calls are forwarded from police to DOW officers, who then decide whether an investigation or a follow-up is necessary.

“Sometimes, the level of calls becomes a burden on our communications people, and it’s frustrating for them,” Haskins said.

Routt County Communications Director Tim McMenamin said that since May 1, police have received 75 bear calls through 911 and non-emergency numbers. From January through April, they received eight. He said that unless an individual feels threatened by a bear, or is caught between a mother and her cubs, residents and visitors should not call to report the animals.

“If people are concerned, they can call us, and if they are truly in danger, they can call 911,” McMenamin said. “But what people should know is that bears are natural here, they belong here, and if you stay away from them, there shouldn’t be any problems.”

He said if a bear isn’t bothering anyone, nobody else needs to know it’s there.

This week, the DOW is trying to track down a young “nuisance” bear who attracted a lot of phone chatter and 911 calls after he frequented the Dumpsters near Steamboat’s Starbucks and Safeway stores.

Haskins said the DOW unsuccessfully attempted to tranquilize and trap the bear during the weekend so that it could be transported out of the area.

“We don’t want to catch a bear unless it’s a problem because it takes a lot of time to catch one, and there aren’t a lot of places you can move it,” he said. “When we do, we try to target specific bears that are dangerous or who have become nuisances because they dig through trash all the time.”

Haskins and McMenamin said peoplewho are concerned by a bear they’ve spotted can call dispatch at 970-879-1090, or the DOW at 970-870-2197. They said 911 should be used only in situations where an individual feels threatened by a bear or thinks an attack is imminent.

The DOW also is working to post more informational boards tnear neighborhoods and areas where bear and other wildlife sightings have happened. The boards advise residents how they can avoid having conflicts with animals.

McMenamin said people often respond to a bear sighting in three ways: “A third are scared out of their wits, a third get too friendly and try to feed them and the other third just enjoy the sighting and take pictures.”

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email


Jeff_Kibler 5 years, 10 months ago

That was quick. I saw Scott taking photos and 2 to 3 hours later here it magically appears. Scott, did you pick the sign up? This morning I drove by and it was laying on its side. I thought it was an over sized yard sale sign that had fallen over.


1999 5 years, 10 months ago

I saw a couple deer today. should I have called?

people need to get a grip.


exduffer 5 years, 10 months ago

How about the Glurpy Slurpy Skakagrall..... Who's standing right behind you!

Thank you Shel


Brian Kotowski 5 years, 10 months ago

I remember watching, years ago, a '60 Minutes' type segment, reporting on bears in the Pononos. The gist was that as residential development encroached on traditional bear habitat, human-bear encounters were on the rise. You venture into your kitchen to make your morning coffee, and find a bear rooting around in your pantry. That sort of thing.

So the show sends a correspondent into the Poconos to report. The correspondent hooks up with a bear expert, who takes the correspondent & crew into the woods to look at the bears. They get to within a couple hundred yards of a momma bear & her cubs. At some point, Momma catches a whiff of the bipeds. She stands up and growls.


The correspondent looks at the bear expert and says: "Don't you think we should head back to the van?"

The bear expert replies (in a spectacular Deliverance accent): "Well, the thing is, Momma, over there, she can do zero to 30 in nothin' flat. If she decides she wants you, you ain't gonna make it back to the van."

At that point, watching it on television, the picture is lost. The cameraman has obviously concluded: 'eff this - I'm outta here!'


Fred Duckels 5 years, 10 months ago

yvb, A spring bear hunt is not likely so you will have to be content killing dogs. Any culling necessary should be done by the bears.


Colette Erickson 5 years, 10 months ago

Are the Safeway and Starbucks' dumpsters bear resistant, per the Muni Code?


babette dickson 5 years, 10 months ago

"They" are all over. Bear proof everything and they will move on not finding treasures dump diving! It is a daily sight seeing in Blue Sage area, and we leave them alone as they do their check-in... Hopefully my neighbors will stay vigilant and leave nothing outside because most of the time "Dusty Bear" vacates the gardens areas mumbling to itself "G%$ D%$# they don't leave me anything!".


Colette Erickson 5 years, 10 months ago

Actually, YVB, the bears are pretty darn enjoyable. What an amazing experience to be privileged to see them! Just give them their space and respect them. And, don't chum them in w/ your garbage, bird feeders, etc... Exercise a bit of common sense.


Candice Martin 5 years, 10 months ago

I was fortunate enough to have attended Jim Haskin's informational talk on bears just outside of Hayden recently! I think everyone should know the information that he presented. If he has another one anytime soon put it on your list of things to do! If enough people call I bet the DOW would put on another one. :)


Kevin Nerney 5 years, 10 months ago

I've got 5 baby skunks under my porch....any ideas who I should call....or what I can do to move them away????? KATHY NERNEY


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