Season’s 1st casualty: Black bear put down

2-year-old was too familiar to South Durango

This bear was in a tree Monday in the east 500 block of First Street. The bear had lost his fear of humans and was a common nuisance in the neighborhood and had to be put down. “I don’t like to put down a bear any time,” said Patt Dorsey, the agency area wildlife manager in Durango. “But the potential for serious trouble was too great.” Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Nick Stasi

This bear was in a tree Monday in the east 500 block of First Street. The bear had lost his fear of humans and was a common nuisance in the neighborhood and had to be put down. “I don’t like to put down a bear any time,” said Patt Dorsey, the agency area wildlife manager in Durango. “But the potential for serious trouble was too great.”

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer put down a 2-year-old male black bear Monday because it has been hanging out with the wrong crowd – humans.

“I don’t like to put down a bear any time,” said Patt Dorsey, the agency area wildlife manager in Durango. “But the potential for serious trouble was too great.”

If winsome can describe a bear, this guy fit the bill. Dorsey said he was cinnamon-colored instead of the more dominant brown coloring, small for his age and cuddly looking.

“But he’s been seen in the area where he was found today many, many times,” Dorsey said. “This means he was comfortable around people, and he was not afraid of the wildlife officer. Normally a bear would be nervous and huffing around people.”

The bear, in a tree in the east 500 block of First Street, had drawn a crowd when the wildlife officer arrived with a trap.

The chance of successfully relocating such a bear is slim, Dorsey said. Once grown, and unafraid of people, he would become a menace, she said.

“We not only worry about aggressive bears but also about bears who are fearless around people,” Dorsey said.

When bad behavior – getting accustomed to people and their food – gets positive reinforcement, there can be only trouble ahead, she said.

“People could help us – and bears – by not allowing them to get into garbage cans and bird or dog food, Dorsey said.

Bryan Peterson, who founded Bear Smart Durango in 2003 to educate people about living in bear country, said Dorsey was absolutely correct.

“I can’t add anything,” Peterson aid. “This is the dark side of attracting bears.”

In 2010, 28 bears were killed by vehicles, put down as nuisances by wildlife officers, shot by landowners or died from electrocution, Peterson said.

The number that died in the same circumstance in 2011 was 34.

The bear put down Monday the first such incident this season, Dorsey said.

daler@durangoherald.com

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