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Bears too close to home

Melinda Mawdsley

— Bear sightings are commonplace in The Sanctuary, but Linda Hamlet had an encounter with three bears Wednesday afternoon that many would consider too close.

A black bear and her two cubs approached Hamlet’s home at 3601 Aspen Wood Lane in mid-afternoon. The bears jumped up against her windows, ripping holes in two screens. The unexpected behavior prompted Hamlet to contact the police.

Hamlet said she had no idea what prompted the bears to put their paws on her house.

“There was nothing going on,” she said. “I’m not feeding birds. I wasn’t cooking anything.”

Nestled near the Fish Creek drainage in a heavily wooded area, the Aspen Wood Lane area has become a home of sorts for the mother and her two cubs, Trey Weatherly said.

Weatherly’s parents live two houses from Hamlet, and Wednesday he was watering the yard when the three bears popped up from the grass near his parents’ home to cross the road. He was unfazed.

“You can see them most every morning,” Weatherly said. “This time of year, you see them all times of day. They are here for all the sarvisberries, and there are sarvisberries in everyone’s yard.”

Hamlet, whose sarvisberry bushes are mostly bare now, said chokecherries are another popular food choice for the black bears.

Jim Hicks of the Colorado Division of Wildlife said September is the time of year bears typically are eating berries, but he said bears approaching people’s homes and jumping up against windows is not typical behavior.

“The best thing to do is scare them off,” Hicks said. “Don’t let them get used to coming around the house. … They are spending a lot of time looking for food right now. They are eating pretty much around the clock because they need to put on a lot of fat before they go into hibernation.”

Hicks added that, while black bears usually aren’t aggressive and do scare easily, people should avoid getting near cubs. People also are reminded not to leave windows or doors open, especially at ground level.

“Bears have a very strong sense of smell,” Hicks said. “They can smell right through a window. It’s a good idea not to leave any windows open if there are bears around. They can climb through very small spaces, especially stuff accessible from the ground.”

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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