Bear found dead in Steamboat neighborhood was not likely killed illegally, wildlife officials say | SteamboatToday.com

Bear found dead in Steamboat neighborhood was not likely killed illegally, wildlife officials say

This adult black bear was found dead on private property in the Steamboat Pines subdivision. Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigates the death, but said their was no evidence that the bear was killed illegally. (Photo courtesy of Steve Downs)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Many of the circumstances surrounding the death of an adult black bear found on private property near the Steamboat Pines subdivision south of Steamboat Springs remain a mystery, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have no leads or proof the animal was illegally killed.

"Our office investigated this incident and did not find any evidence of illegal activity to this point," said Mike Porras, public information officer for CPW’s northwest region. "However, if anyone in the public has additional information about this case, or any case, in which illegal wildlife activity is suspected, they are urged to let our officers know."

Porras said just because the bear was found on private property doesn't mean that it was killed illegally.

"The public should know that on rare occasions an animal is wounded during a hunt and the hunter is unable to locate the animal," Porras said. "Depending on the placement of the shot, a bear can survive several days and travel many miles before it succumbs. At this point, we cannot determine where the animal was shot or by whom."

The bear was first spotted from a distance near a pond on private property at noon Sunday, Sept 23. The person noticed the animal had not moved for several hours, and when she went closer to investigate later that afternoon, she discovered the animal was dead.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife responded that evening and confirmed the bear had been shot by an arrow and had died. Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said the bear could have been shot illegally and left, or hunters may have shot the bear in the nearby Emerald Mountain State Wildlife Area or on Bureau of Land Management property, and the animal wandered onto private property where it then died.

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Middledorf said it is the hunter’s responsibility to track a wounded animal but it isn't always easy or possible.

"I don't know what the circumstances of this incident were," Middledorf said. "It would be my hope that somebody did spend a good amount of time looking for this animal.

“If anyone does wound an animal and it goes down on private property, they need to get permission from the landowner before they cross over that fence or go across that line to retrieve their animal,” Middledorf said. “If anyone has an issue with that and they can’t contact the landowner, they can certainly get in touch with us, and we will do our best to assist with that."

Middledorf said tracking a wounded animal is part of hunting.

"They can't just look around for a few minutes and say, 'Wow I can't find the animal,’" Middledorf said. "There needs to be an exceptional effort by a hunter to look for game that they have wounded and that they have intended to harvest."

Steve Downs, who lives in the area, said he was familiar with the bear. He said the animal frequented the area that includes the Steamboat Pines subdivision, Country Green, Spring Green, Agate Creek Preserve and the nearby Humble Ranch — areas were hunting is not permitted. He and other neighbors noticed hunters wearing camouflage clothing and carrying bows and arrows on Elk Lane the day before the bear was found dead.

"The bear in question had been seen enough, and I know a couple of markings on him that are familiar," Downs said. "It was the same one that has been in our area for awhile."

Downs said he has no evidence the hunters he saw shot the arrow that killed the bear.

"There was rumor that there was two or three other hunters on Elk Lane," Middledorf said. "Somebody told the reporting party that, but nobody called us and told us about anybody physically trespassing. We would certainly follow up with any trespass issues that people had, and of course, we would follow up with any animal issues that somebody calls us about.”

The archery season, which began Sept. 2, ended on Sunday.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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