Steamboat Springs Officials say a lackluster berry crop resulting from drought conditions is partly to blame for continued reports of nuisance bears throughout Routt County.
“There's still a lot of bear activity,” said Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. “They’re out looking for food.”
Haskins said wildlife officers have trapped three black bears deemed to be nuisances this summer. The first one was trapped early in the summer near Rollingstone Drive.
“That bear was very comfortable around people,” Haskins said.
The bear also showed aggressive behavior, and Haskins said it “snapped” at a wildlife officer and bit the tip of the officer’s finger. The officer was fine, but the decision was made to put the bear down.
The second bear was trapped May 23 on Pine Street in downtown Steamboat. The incident proved to be quite a spectacle and required the help of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters, who had to free the tranquilized bear that had become wedged in a tree branch. The bear fell to a tarp, which helped break its fall.
That bear was relocated, but Haskins said it is possible the bear traveled 20 to 30 miles and is the same one that has been causing problems in the Hahn’s Peak area. Haskins said recent attempts to trap the bear have been unsuccessful.
The third bear was trapped in the beginning of July. Haskins said that on July 4, the nuisance bear was reported at the Steamboat Campground on the west side of town. The bear had gotten into tents, Haskins said, and the campground had to refund money to campers who were uncomfortable with the situation. A trap caught the bear, which was relocated to an undisclosed location.
“We have not had any more reports of that bear,” Haskins said.
Wildlife officers were unsuccessful in trapping a bear that went after chickens at a home along Routt County Road 36 in Strawberry Park. Haskins said the chicken coop was guarded by an electric fence, which has proven to be effective, but it is thought that the bear was able to get on top of the coop by climbing a nearby tree. It appeared the bear got into the coop, but the chickens were spared, and the bear went after the feed instead.
In rural Routt County, Haskins is expecting claims from sheep producers who have had sheep killed by bears. Parks and Wildlife reimburses producers who have had livestock damaged by wildlife.
“All the producers are having some trouble,” Haskins said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com