Bear takes a plunge in Steamboat Springs |

Bear takes a plunge in Steamboat Springs

Animal wedges itself between branches after being tranquilized

Firefighters and Division of Parks and Wildlife officers hold a tarp to catch the falling bear.
Matt Stensland

— Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters got an unusual call Wednesday when a black bear did not fall from the tree in which it was tranquilized.

“I’ve never rescued a bear,” said firefighter Leighton White, who climbed the ladder truck to help get the bear down.

At about 3 p.m., Steamboat Springs Police Department and Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife officers were contacted about the bear on Pine Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. The person who reported the bear was concerned because school was about to be let out and students would be walking in the area. The bear had gone through an unsecured trash container and then climbed a tree.

Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins made the call to have the yearling male tranquilized.

“They’re the troublemakers,” Haskins said. “We’ve got a lot of problems with yearlings this year.”

The plan was to tranquilize the bear, break its fall from the tree with a tarp and then relocate it at least 60 miles away.

After being shot with the tranquilizer dart, the bear moved farther up the tree. When the bear fell asleep a couple of minutes later, it had wedged itself between branches.

“They will frequently try to find a place where they feel secure, and that’s what he did,” Haskins said.

Haskins said they considered putting the bear on the ladder to bring it down, but they figured that could be a bad idea if the bear would wake up.

White tied a rope to the bear’s ankle and started to lower it down, but the rope slipped. Officers below were prepared with a tarp to help break the bear’s fall.

Haskins was thankful for the help from firefighters.

“It was great what they did, and they were glad to do it,” Haskins said.

The caged bear was taken to the Division of Parks and Wildlife office and awoke early Wednesday evening.

Officers planned to keep the bear overnight in order to make sure it was OK and said it likely would be relocated Thursday.

With the recent uprising of nuisance bears in Steamboat, Haskins said more needs to be done to enforce regulations related to bear-proof trash containers.

“We have bears that aren’t afraid of people,” Haskins said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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