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Bear spotted rummaging through Steamboat Springs trash for several days tranquilized, relocated

CPW is concerned bear may return to trash for food
Posted at 11:20 AM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-11 13:30:00-04

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — A bear in Steamboat Springs was relocated after rummaging through trash for several days and nearing a preschool during dismissal time Monday afternoon.

On Monday, the Steamboat Springs Police Department received several calls from the public about a young cinnamon-colored bear that was rummaging around in residents’ trash downtown around 7th and 8th Streets, according to a report from Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

Mike Porras with CPW said the Steamboat Springs Police Department had been receiving up to six calls a day regarding this bear over the course of several days. It had decided to find food in trash bins, he said.

A CPW wildlife officer went to this area and found the bear up a tree, about 100 yards from a preschool.

The officer kept an eye on the bear during the school’s dismissal. When all of the students and their families were out of the area, the bear was tranquilized and relocated, according to the report.

Porras said black bears will typically seek out their natural food — like berries, fruits, nuts, plants, insects and animal carcasses — but will occasionally get into trash bins. If they find a steady source of trash, it can encourage them to stay in a residential area, he said. Bears that are accustomed to living among humans are dangerous. While they are naturally shy animals, they can become aggressive if surprised or provoked.

Securing trash in a bear-proof container is an important way to prevent them from hanging out in communities, he said. He said in almost all cases, bears get into trash because:

  • the resident is irresponsible and doesn't use these types of containers, or
  • the resident doesn't know how to prevent bears from sticking around their neighborhood

This is why education is a major part of CPW’s mission when dealing with wildlife.

“Every year, this is a reoccurring message,” Porras said. “CPW puts this out every year at this time — to remind folks that this is a very serious issue. This is not something people should overlook. A bear can easily injure or kill a person. It’s a serious concern for our agency. When people feed wildlife, it’s basically sentencing that animal to death. It’s our officers that have carry out that execution.”

The bear in this case, he said, was tagged before it was released. If it returns to a residential area and needs to be trapped, it will be put down. Porras said he hopes the bear remains in its new habitat, but this may be tough, since it had started to rely on trash for food.

CPW is continuing to encourage people who live in bear habitats to secure their trash, bird food pet food, bird seed and other attractants. When bears start to see those as easy food sources, it becomes a danger to all involved.

For more information on living with Colorado bears, visit