Steamboat Springs wildlife officials trap, relocate injured bear

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— Hibernation time is near, but the local bear population still is keeping a high profile in Steamboat Springs as it packs on the pounds.

“People need to realize that bears are out all day long, and they’re getting ready to go into hibernation,” said Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.

Haskins said officers successfully trapped the bear that left a trail of bloody paw prints on the Walton Creek Trail, a spur of the Yampa River Core Trail, on Friday night. At first, it was thought someone might have shot the bear, but officers followed the bloody prints Saturday to a Dumpster at the Walton Pond Apartments.

A trap set near Val D’Isere Circle caught the bear Sunday. Haskins said that the bear was fine and that it looked like the bear injured its paw from garbage in the Dumpster. The bear was relocated away from Steamboat.

Other bear incidents

On Tuesday, a car hit a bear in the area of Rollingstone Drive and Pine Grove Road.

Haskins said that officers were able to find the bear and that it did not appear to be seriously injured.

“It’s hard to say that it was injured at all,” Haskins said.

Haskins said wildlife officials are trying to figure out where the bear came from. It has been seen in the area before, and it has a green ear tag. Haskins said officers in this area do not use green tags to mark bears.

Officers still are concerned about bear activity in the area of Blue Sage Drive and Meadowbrook Circle.

A sow and two cubs surprised a woman on Meadowbrook Circle on Monday when one of the cubs got into the groceries in her car and started snacking on sweet potato fries.

That same day, wildlife officer Mike Middleton had an encounter with a sow and cubs nearby in the Blue Sage Drive area.

Middleton said the bears already had cleaned off a crabapple tree, had managed to defeat a bear-proof trash can and were “gorging themselves on trash.” The sow then “bluff charged” Middleton. Middleton said he fired two shots of rubber buckshot to stop the bear from coming any closer.

Middleton said he has been telling residents that in order to fully secure their trash, they need to have more than the standard bear-proof container. He is recommending residents use straps, such as the ones used to secure loads on trucks, to wrap around the trash cans.

Haskins said it is possible some female bears already have gone into hibernation. Males start hibernating later.

“They’re looking pretty fat, so I think they’re ready,” Middleton said. “Maybe a turn in the weather will convince them to den up.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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