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Bear in tree draws crowd on Main Avenue in Durango

Ursine climbs tree in front of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Bears are infiltrating urban areas with greater gusto this summer, as evidenced Thursday when an ursine climbed a tree on Main Avenue in Durango, outside the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

“This is what it’s come to,” Bear Smart Durango’s Bryan Peterson posted Thursday morning on Facebook.

Durango police were notified about 6:30 a.m. of a large black bear in the 500 block of Main Avenue, outside the chocolate factory and near the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot.

The chocolate factory is known for placing a giant stuffed bear outside its stores across the nation, including on Main Avenue in Durango. Is it possible the black bear needed a friend?

Sgt. Nick Stasi said by the time officers arrived, a curious crowd had gathered around the bear.

“When we got there, we pushed the crowd back a little bit to give the bear space,” he said. “He was pretty stressed out.”

Stasi said since there was no good escape route for the bear, officers called Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which arrived a little before 8 a.m. to tranquilize the bear.

“It fell asleep still in the tree, and they (CPW) gently got it out of the tree into a truck,” he said. “I was really impressed; they didn’t cause undue stress to the bear.”

CPW Wildlife Manager Matt Thorpe said the male bear, which weighed 325 to 350 pounds, was likely 4 to 5 years old. He said the bear was previously tagged in a CPW study.

“It’s one that had been good at exploiting food sources in town and retreating before daylight,” he said. “This time he lingered too long, and the tourist activity drew him up the tree and he couldn’t get away.”

Thorpe said the bear would be relocated “a good distance away.”

CPW killed a bear Thursday morning that broke into several homes in the Edgemont Ranch area, he said. He did not immediately have information available on how many bears have been euthanized this year.

Bear Smart’s Peterson was not immediately available for comment, but he has said numerous times that unsecured trash and other human-related food sources have bears regularly pushing farther into urban areas.

This year, wildlife managers agree a poor natural food year coupled with human-related food sources, such as unsecured trash and bird feeders, have led to one of the busiest years for human-bear conflicts.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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