Officials in Steamboat offer ways to help keep black bears out of the news | SteamboatToday.com

Officials in Steamboat offer ways to help keep black bears out of the news

Steamboat Today reader John Hoover shared this photo of a bear at Tree Haus. Steamboat Springs authorities are preparing for what historically has been the height of bear activity in the city.

— The black bears in Steamboat Springs continue to be the subjects of some very unusual stories.

First they were breaking into, and getting stuck inside, Subarus.

Then, they got caught sneaking into houses.

Now, could they really be stealing wallets and phones?

The Steamboat Springs Police Department hasn’t been able to confirm the latest accusation, but officers on Sunday afternoon did get a report from a transient man who said two bear cubs snagged the important items from his campsite in a wooded area south of downtown.

Police Sgt. Jeff Wilson said the man, who told police he temporarily was camping in the area while looking for work, likely was attracting bears by leaving food out.

The incident comes as authorities here prepare for what historically has been the height of bear activity in the city.

Yearlings have learned bad Dumpster-diving behavior from the sows.

Cubs are cut loose from their mothers.

And there are many things residents and visitors can do to safely co-exist with the bears and keep them out of the news, and trouble.

First, not every bear deserves to be ratted out to the authorities via a 911 call.

"If it’s just a bear walking down the street, there is no need to call," Wilson said.

But he said bears that are getting into trash, drawing a large crowd or posing some sort of threat should be reported.

Non-emergent reports can be made by calling Routt County Communications at 970-879-1090.

In August 2012, Wilson said police and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers were responding to about six bear calls per day.

The agencies responded to seven during the weekend.

Pictures captured late last week of a crowd getting dangerously close to a pair of moose on Mount Werner Circle also has wildlife officials stressing that people need to keep a safe distance from wildlife, including black bears.

Some of the bear calls fielded by law enforcement this summer came from people who saw others getting too close to bears for a close-up photo.

It doesn’t help that today’s cellphones and iPads still don’t have much in the way of telephoto capabilities.

"People are trying to get that once-in-a-lifetime snapshot of Steamboat but not realizing the danger of it," Wilson said.

People who don’t find themselves in photo range of the wildlife also can do their part.

Precautions include ensuring trash and food is properly stored, barbecue grills are regularly cleaned and ground level windows and screen doors are shut.

"The biggest thing is to remind people black bears are wild animals," Wilson said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com