(US CO) Strike policy struck bear WednesdayStrike policy struck bear Wednesday August 13, 2005 7:46 AM
I want to cry over this.
Strike policy struck bear Wednesday
DOW: Euthanized sow was no longer afraid of humans
By Brittany Anas, Camera Staff Writer
August 12, 2005
The black bear that was euthanized on Wednesday had a fatal flaw: She had lost her fear of humans.
Five years ago, the bear was given an ear tag to identify her after she was spotted in a Boulder neighborhood near Iris Avenue and Broadway, said Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Tyler Baskfield.
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August 13, 2005 7:48 AM
Since then, the bear has been shot an estimated 15 times with rubber buckshot or bean bags by wildlife and open space officials for doing things that showed she wasn't afraid of people, Baskfield said. A bear is "hazed" if, for example, it seems to feel comfortable in somebody's back yard. The buckshot is intended to drive it back into its habitat.
The sow had become a frequent visitor to cottages in the Chautauqua Park area. Park rangers said she knew the garbage schedule and scrounged for food on trash day.
She was killed Wednesday afternoon after charging a Boulder man in his yard, then confronting two hikers. One of the hikers reported the bear "bluff charged" her, meaning it approached her aggressively, possibly woofing like a dog.
"We gave her every chance in the book," Baskfield said.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife has a two-strike policy with bears before they are euthanized. A first strike is earned if a bear is caught damaging private property — for example, breaking into a home or trashing a campsite, Baskfield said. After the first offense, he said, a bear is likely to be tranquilized, tagged and relocated. On a second offense, the bear is killed.
City of Boulder officials closed several trails in the Chautauqua area on Wednesday afternoon, and wildlife officers were concerned about the safety of people with whom the bear might come in contact, Baskfield said. There is a fine line between bluff charging and attacking, he said.
"We understand that bears are very adaptable and smart creatures," Baskfield said. "The vast majority of bears in the Front Range have opportunities to come in contact with people, and they aren't. We are not chasing down every bear that we come in contact with and killing it. This was a very tough decision."
The trails were reopened Thursday, and the bear's cubs were relocated to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
Between 2000 and 2004, the Division of Wildlife has euthanized 157 bears. Bears can be euthanized if they are determined to be nuisances or if they are severely injured in traffic accidents.
Fifty-five bears were euthanized in 2002, the most in one year during the five-year period. It was a heavy drought year, Baskfield said, and because food sources were limited, bears traveled widely to find their chokecherries and oak brush acorns.
Biologists estimate that bears need to consume 20,000 calories a day — the equivalent of 50 quarter-pound hamburgers — to build their stores of body fat for hibernation.
At Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation Center, about 30 bears, mostly black bears, roam on a 10-acre habitat. The majority of the center's animals were once kept as illegal pets, but a few of the bears are nuisance bears from California, said Pat Craig, the founder of the sanctuary.
The animals at the sanctuary won't be released into the wild again. Craig said he wishes the center could take in more nuisance bears, but there is not enough space or resources.
"We'd love to save them all," he said.
Craig said people sometimes put out food for wildlife in their yards, and then other neighbors call and complain.
"A lot of strikes end up because a bear was in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at (303) 473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2005, Boulder Publishing LLC
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