CPW euthanizes third bear this month

Hungry bears still active locally to mid-November

Suzie Romig
Steamboat Pilot
A black bear cub peaks from behind a tree in August 2020 in Colorado.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Courtesy photo

In the past three years in Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area 10, including Routt County, some black bears that have become habituated to human food sources have been euthanized as late in the year as Oct. 22.

Local bears are not expected to hibernate until mid-November this year, according to Travis Duncan, CPW public information officer, so local residents and business owners need to continue to be vigilant about properly securing trash bins and dumpsters and removing all wildlife food attractants for another two months.

Local CPW officers had to euthanize three bears so far during September, with the third happening Saturday in the area of Valverdant Circle off Fish Creek Falls Road on the east side of Steamboat Spring. The animal euthanized Saturday is the sixth local bear this year to be put down due to habituated behavior. Also this year, one bear was relocated, two cubs of a sow that was euthanized were taken to a rehab center, and another bear was killed by a vehicle on U.S. Highway 40.

In comparison, in Area 10 in 2020, five bears were euthanized by officers, with the last happening Oct. 22, and three bears were relocated. In 2019 in Area 10, three bears were euthanized, the last Sept. 20, and two were relocated.

“Do a site analysis of your home and remove all attractants,” Duncan advised. “Use whatever is the newest and best bear-resistant trash containers you have access to in your area, and if there are issues, contact CPW and figure out how to work on improvements. Bears are still active for the next month or more trying to pack on pounds to survive the winter.”

A CPW media release this week said the third bear euthanized this month “had lost its fear of humans, was entering homes in search of food and had become a threat to human health and safety.”

On Friday and Saturday, multiple homeowners living near Valverdant Circle reported an aggressive bear attempting to enter their homes, according to CPW. On Friday morning, the bear entered a home through a sliding glass door after the homeowner left for the day, and the bear received a food reward in the fridge, cupboards and trash. The homeowner reported the medium-sized black bear with brown fur came back that night around 8:30 p.m. looking for food. The responding wildlife officer believed the bear had become habituated to human food, rather than natural nuts, berries and grasses bears normally eat in the wild.

“We set a trap for this bear because a bear in hyperphagia that has no fear of entering a home in search of food is a dangerous bear that poses an immediate threat to humans,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf, in a media release.

At 8:24 a.m. Saturday, wildlife officers received a report of a bear that attempted to enter a home near the trap and had torn out window screens but was unable to get through the closed windows. The bear was reported at 3:30 p.m. Saturday by a homeowner who saw the bear on the deck inspecting doors and windows to try to gain entry. The bear was caught in the trap shortly after the final sighting, identified by the homeowner and euthanized by wildlife officers.

Although bear-related calls are down statewide this year, CPW bear report numbers since the start of the annual heavy feeding time indicate the Routt County area is seeing more bear calls this year. From Aug. 1 to Sept. 18, local Area 10 received 72 bear-related calls, up from 20 during that same timeframe in 2020 and 36 during that timeframe in 2019, Duncan said.

The statewide bear call numbers for Aug. 1 to Sept. 18 were 689 this year, 1,420 in 2020 and 1,626 in 2019.

Black bears in Colorado are in hyperphagia, when they spend up to 20 hours per day trying to eat more than 20,000 calories. For more information on bears in Colorado, including a guide to Bear-Proofing Your Home or Business, as well as Bear-Proof Home Audit Checklist, visit

The other two cases of euthanized bears this month Sept. 7-14 happened in the same general area of the community, Duncan said.

In addition to removing all food and trash attractants around the outside of a home, local residents are asked to keep garage doors closed, as well as ground floor windows and doors closed and locked. Wildlife officials say daytime activity is not uncommon for hungry bears, especially during a drought.

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