August 24, 2009

Bears fight for habitat, guess who’s gonna win

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The bold bears of Colorado are watching their habitat shrink and bringing it, with literally hundreds of clashes this summer in mountain towns – including a fatal attack, a mauling and many B&Es. And wildlife officers are searching for options, looking for ways to push back against the bears, including hazing of nuisance bears, increasing hunting permits and deputizing police officers to shoot to kill.

The Denver Post reports that Colorado wildlife officers have killed 25 problems bears already. And the Aspen Times reports police and county sheriff’s officers in the area will be deputized to act as wildlife officers and kill dangerous bears when necessary. Watch the Post’s slide show of the “dangerous bears of Aspen” here.

“Guys are living out of their trucks now, trying to keep people safe,” Wildlife officer Tyler Baskfield told the Post.

Hunting isn’t the solution, because it doesn’t target nuisance bears. And bears, says senior state wildlife biologist John Broderick,  are “an icon of wildness.”

“We’ve got to make sure they’re here for perpetuity,” he said.

Just tell that to that 17-year-old female grizzly shot and killed last week in Montana for being “disturbingly friendly” to campers and hikers in Glacier National Park despite repeated attempts over 10 years at behavior modification, as InvestigateWest wrote about last week. One of her two cubs died from the effects of the tranquilizing dart. It’s war out there.

— Rita Hibbard

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