Bear eats chickens in Steamboat neighborhood: Public reminded to secure trash, homes |

Bear eats chickens in Steamboat neighborhood: Public reminded to secure trash, homes

A black bear hangs out on a tree limb in Steamboat in 2019. Local officials handled the first bear call of the season early Thursday morning after a bear broke into a chicken coop in the Brooklyn neighborhood and ate multiple chickens.
John F. Russell/File photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A black bear killed six chickens at a residence in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Steamboat Springs early Thursday morning in what officials are calling the first bear incident of the season.

The incident comes days before Steamboat Springs City Council is scheduled to give final approval of an ordinance to enforce stricter trash rules in an effort to reduce conflicts with wildlife.

At 2:54 a.m. on Thursday, March 12, Steamboat Springs Police Department officers received a report of a bear that tore its way into a chicken coop at a residence in the 200 block of River Road.

Sgt. Rich Brown said police were able to haze the bear away. Officers could see the tracks where the bear had traveled down the hillside from Emerald Mountain, he said. In addition to killing the chickens, the bear got into several trash cans.

In wake of the incident, officials are reminding residents to secure their garbage and homes, as required by Steamboat city ordinances

While bears can be active throughout the year, this tends to be a time when the animals are hibernating, according to Kris Middledorf, the local wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He attributes this most recent incident to the bout of warm weather that has swept the Yampa Valley and awoken some bears in the area.

Wildlife officers have not taken any physical action against the bear, according to Middledorf. He said this time of year is not ideal to relocate bears that cause conflicts because of the lack of available food in many areas. 

He therefore reminds people to take steps to avoid conflicts with bears. 

“We do not want this bear to become habituated to human-supplied food resources,” Middledorf said.

PLEASE SHARE~Steamboat has our first bear awake. We've received word that there was a bear out and about in the Brooklyn…

Posted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife – Steamboat Springs on Thursday, March 12, 2020

If the bear continues to pose issues, wildlife officers may have to resort to killing it, he said.

For people with chicken coops, Middledorf advises using enclosures that can keep out bears, such as electric fencing, to keep bears away.

Current ordinances require residents who store their trash outside to have containers and recycle bins that are certified bear-resistant by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.

Tips on avoiding bear conflicts
  • Use bear-resistant trash cans approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
  • Keep garbage in enclosed, locked areas such as a garage or shed.
  • Install electric fencing on chicken coops.
  • Keep food out of vehicles and lock car doors.
  • Take bird feeders inside at night.

If they do not, residents must store their waste in a building, house, garage or dumpster enclosure. They may only take waste outside between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on trash pickup days. 

On Tuesday, March 17, City Council will vote on the final reading of a proposed ordinance that would require all residents and businesses to store their trash in bear-resistant containers. Many, including Middledorf, see it as a way to keep bears and people safe. 

“I think this ordinance is a fantastic opportunity for the community to take responsibility for our trash,” he said.

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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