State wildlife officials are unsure what effect the summer-like temperatures of late will have on the local black bear population, but they are hoping a volunteer awareness effort will help cut the number of human-related problems.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hosting a Bear Aware meeting May 10 for Aspen and Pitkin County residents. Volunteers will be trained to educate citizens on how to reduce conflicts between the animals and people.
“The Bear Aware team’s main duty is to fan out throughout their local community and personally remind their friends and neighbors about some of the practical things everyone can do to minimize dangerous bear interactions,” a state press release says.
With the county and city being “deep in the heart of bear habitat,” district wildlife manager Kevin Wright said his agency sees problems every year.
“We need your help,” he said in the release.
Officials in valley communities have already received reports of bears delving into unsecured trash containers.
“The early activity gave us a little pause,” said northwest division spokesman Mike Porras in an interview. “Things can change dramatically. We could get hit by a cold snap affecting [bears’] mass crops like berries and acorns, or we could have a prolonged period with no rain.
“Various factors can affect bear-human conflicts.”
Bear Aware volunteers cannot enforce laws, regulations or ordinances but can bring violations to authorities’ attention, the release says. They will also have the occasional opportunity to work with wildlife officers when bears are captured and need to be relocated.
With volunteers’ help, the wildlife division can “reduce the number of conflicts and ultimately reduce the number of bears that need to be removed or killed,” according to the release.
The May 10 training will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Rio Grande Room, 455 Rio Grande Place, in Aspen. For more information, call 947-2920.