Bears safe from expanded hunting season for now

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenAugust 23, 2011

A state congressman is holding fire on his plan to broaden Colorado's bear hunting season.

J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, told the Durango Herald on Friday that he won't try to reintroduce a bill he floated in April that would have overturned a voter-approved law that limits bear hunting to the fall.

Before deciding his next move, Brown wants to wait a year so he can see the results of a population study the state Division of Parks and Wildlife is conducting in the southwestern section of the state.

One of the reasons Brown wants to expand the bear hunt is the rise in human-bear conflicts.

There have been multiple bear attacks in recent years, including two in Aspen over the weekend.

A black bear in Colorado.
Division of Wildlife

The more serious of the two occurred when a bear tore through a tent in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness on Saturday morning and repeatedly bit a climber's leg causing serious injury. The same bear is believed to have pounced on a tent the morning before, biting a man but inflicting less harm.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, a U. S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services specialist and U. S. Forest Service rangers tracked down the suspected offending bear on Sunday and killed it.

"We were very careful to make sure we got the right bear," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will.

In Saturday morning's incident, the injured camper reported having an empty bag of freeze-dried food inside a backpack in his tent, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported. However, the campers involved in Friday morning's incident indicated that they had followed all recommended food storage practices, but still became a target of the aggressive bear. Wildlife managers suspect that due to poor practices by previous campers in the area, the bear had learned that tents were an easy source of food.

"Overall, camping in Colorado remains safe and fun, and incidents like this remain very rare," Will said. "If you follow a few simple rules, you will likely have an enjoyable camping experience."

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