Colorado Parks and Wildlife is inviting Aspen and upper Roaring Fork Valley residents to attend Bear Aware team training, Thursday May 10, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., in Aspen’s Rio Grande Room, 455 Rio Grande Place. This group of volunteers will work in and around Aspen and Pitkin County.

As a supplement to state and local law enforcement and information efforts, Bear Aware groups were organized in cities and towns throughout the state by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to provide a way for citizens to participate directly in reducing conflicts between black bears and people. The Bear Aware team’s main duty is to fan out throughout their local community and personally remind their friends and neighbors about some of the practical things everyone can do to minimize dangerous bear interactions.

“We need your help,” said District Wildlife Manager Kevin Wright, of Aspen. “We are deep in the heart of bear habitat here and we continue to see problems every year, in town and throughout Pitkin County.”

Wright says that the volunteers’ efforts have helped him get important information about reducing bear conflicts to the public.

“The volunteers live in the community and personally know many of their neighbors,” Wright said. “They have a strong interest in making sure things are done right.”

Because of the early spring warm-up this year, wildlife managers in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley are preparing for any possible increases in conflicts. Officials in these mountain communities have already received reports of bears seeking food from an all too familiar source – unsecured trash containers.

“We cannot make predictions but it’s important to begin taking steps to deal with a challenging year and Bear Aware teams are an important component of those preparations,” said Wright.

Bear Aware volunteers cannot enforce laws, regulations or ordinances but they can bring violations to the attention of the appropriate authorities. In addition, Bear Aware team members do not handle bears, but occasionally have an opportunity to work with wildlife officers when bears are captured and translocated

“As they have in the past, we expect concerned volunteers will step up and make a difference through the Bear Aware team,” said Wright. “With their help, we could reduce the number of conflicts and ultimately reduce the number of bears that need to be removed or killed.”

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