Colorado’s Bear/Human Problems Continue To Surge

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts, and wild tales from the outdoors

Aug. 26, 2009

Colorado’s Bear/Human Problems Continue To Surge
Abundant forage in the Colorado high country hasn’t deterred more and more
black bears from wandering into urban areas this summer, resulting in hundreds
of bear complaints, one fatality, attacks, and a growing number of residential
break-ins. You’ll also read about an unusual new shooting ordinance in
Pennsylvania, and some numbers indicating the popularity of bird watching in the United States.

Trouble Bruin In Colorado
Brad Coors, chairman of the Colorado Wildlife Commission, says higher hunter
harvests in recent years apparently hasn’t affected bear numbers to a great
degree, as wildlife officials have already been forced to trap and relocate 25
problem bruins this season.

J.R. Absher

Hunters in Colorado took 760 black bears in the 2008 season, compared to 450
in 2005

And wildlife biologists say that even though this year’s unusually wet
conditions produced plenty of berries that bears love, it also helped to spread
a mold that turns the fruit so sour that bears won’t eat them.

Authorities in Aspen have received more than 265 calls reporting bear
problems since July 1.

Earlier in August, a 74-year-old Ouray County woman who was known to leave
food outside her home to attract bears was tragically killed and partially
eaten by at least one of the carnivores. Authorities subsequently shot and
killed a 250-pound and a 394-pound bear outside the victim’s home.

Last week, Colorado Division of Wildlife Officers killed a bear at the site
of an attack on an Aspen homeowner that occurred some 48 hours earlier. The
woman received non-life threatening cuts and lacerations when attacked by a
black bear that broke into her home. She was able to flee to the upstairs
bedroom where she called 911.

"We placed our personnel at the scene of the earlier attack knowing
that bears are highly likely to return to the places where they have previously
found food," said Perry Will, DOW area wildlife manager. "Because the
bear had eaten some food after breaking into the home Monday, the hunch paid
off and the bear returned to the home at almost the same time of night as the
original incident."

Based on the matching description and the fact that the bear exhibited no
fear of people, the bear was shot and killed.

"I’m convinced, based on my training and experience, that this is the
bear responsible for the … incident," said Will.

Modern Gun Battle Brewing In Gettysburg
A modern-day skirmish involving firearms is underway in Gettysburg,
Pa., site of perhaps the most important — and the most famous —
battle of the American Civil War.

Veteran’s groups and Civil War re-enactors are at odds with Gettysburg’s new
ordinance requiring organizations and individuals to pay an annual $20 fee
prior to using firearms to discharge blanks at events and ceremonies within the
borough limits. In addition, they must obtain a special permit and show proof
of insurance before firing blank loads.

About 30 U.S. military veterans wore their uniforms to protest the new
ordinance during the regular meeting of the Gettysburg Borough Council,
according to a report in the York Daily Record.

For the dozens who packed the council chambers on August 10, their grievance
was as much about tradition and honor as it was about principle. That’s because
the new ordinance affects the members of honor guards who perform at the
burials and last rites given to veterans and fallen soldiers.

"We believe this ordinance to be unfair, if not illegal, to our service
organizations and inadvertently a measure of disrespect to our fallen brothers
and sisters who have honorably served," VFW Post 15 Commander Bob Finch
told the council. "Levying any fee against this venerated ceremony speaks
the wrong message."

The council approved the ordinance earlier this summer in apparent response
to an incident in which a Civil War re-enactor was injured when another
participant accidentally fired an unloaded black-powder rifle at point-blank range.
Hundreds of historic re-enactors take part in numerous events in Gettysburg
annually, prompting many to speculate that the motive behind the ordinance was
more about raising revenue for the borough than about a valid concern for

Pennsylvanian Jim Fulmer, longtime re-enactor and past president of the
National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, said the ordinance is unfair,
unprecedented and a threat to both recreational shooting and historic

"In the big picture, regulations like these could kill our hobby and
our sport," Fulmer told The Outdoor News Hound. "It also shows us how
voting for small-town council members can be as important as voting for U.S.
congressmen when it comes to gun rights."

In calling for a waiver of the ordinance, Finch said about 70 military
funerals were performed in Adams County last year and more than 25 have taken
place in the first seven months of 2009. He said the veteran’s council has
already paid the new $20 fee, but only out of respect for the law.

FWS Report: One-Fifth Of Americans Watch Birds
A newly released addendum report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
"Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis,"
reveals that 48 million Americans bird watch, a number that has remained at a
steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996.

The report indicates the one in five Americans who watch birds contributed
$36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006, the most recent year for which
economic data are available.

Participation rates vary, but are generally greater in the northern half of
the U.S. The five top states with the greatest birding participation rates
include Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent),
Minnesota (33 percent), and Iowa (33 percent).

Quote Of The Week
"A fly rod is good for whatever ails a man. Any curable infirmity to which
the flesh is heir is sure to respond to its persuasive therapy. And it is
especially recommended for ulcers, nervous breakdowns and overdoses of wedlock.”
-Havilah Babcock
“Jaybirds Go to Hell on Friday,” 1964

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the
outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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