In 2007 the Aspen Police took on the role of wildlife enforcement for the City of Aspen. We recognized the challenges of living with bears and wanted to create a community where bears and humans could safely coexist. The department identified trash as a key attractant that drew bears into town. We advocated heavily for changes to local trash ordinances, requiring bear-resistant containers and other measures, that went into effect June 1, 2010.
Due to drought conditions and poor natural food sources during 2012, bears ventured into town in high volumes. This was the first true test of the revamped wildlife ordinances. The department received a record 1,040 bear calls this season yet fewer bears were relocated and euthanized in Aspen than in previous years (1 and 2, respectively). There were also significantly fewer trash violations, especially in residential areas of town.
In contrast, the Aspen Police Department received on 52 bear related calls during 2013. This has been attributed to a year rich in natural food sources in the high country.
We believe the community has prevented the unnecessary death of bears by embracing local trash ordinances and taking preventative measures to bear-proof their homes. There will always be challenges when living in bear country, but the Aspen community has proven itself by adopting a progressive approach to bear management. By working together the citizens of Aspen, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, the Aspen Police Department and countless others have made a difference.