Sportsmen Seek to Solve Colorado’s “Bear in Tree” Problem with Reinstated Spring Hunting Season

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It’s raining bears in Colorado. Just about one month after a young black bear fell out of a tree on the University of Colorado Boulder’s campus and images and video of the fall went viral, another bear took refuge in a tree in Steamboat Springs.

The bear climbed up a tree on Pine Street between Eighth and Ninth streets around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Police and fire department personnel were called to the scene by a resident who worried that school children would soon be walking the streets after school got out. The bear had gone through an unsecured trash can and then made its way up the tree. It was only a yearling.

“They’re the troublemakers,” Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said. “We’ve got a lot of problems with yearlings this year.”

After it was hit with a tranquilizer dart, the bear moved further up the tree before it fell asleep. It wedged itself in between two trees and didn’t fall until a firefighter pushed it down onto the waiting tarp below.

View a video of the falling bear here.

The bear was kept in captivity until it awoke and was awaiting relocation Thursday.

Harping on the recent bear resurgence in cities, Haskins said more needs to be done to enforce bear-proof trash container regulations. But many sportsmen and women have another solution.

They would like to reinstate a spring bear hunting season that was removed with a statewide referendum, Measure 10, in 1992 amid debate between pro- and anti-hunting groups. Momentum to reinstate the season built up in April 2011 when Colorado State Representative J. Paul Brown sponsored a bill that would allow the state’s Division of Wildlife to do so. However, Brown eventually amended the bill to remove the provisions for a spring hunting season and the bill never went anywhere.

Hunters have also raised issues with the amount of bear tags available during the regular season. User hengst on a Field and Stream discussion on the issue said, “Most hunters that get bear tags get them along with their elk/deer tags. A sort of ‘just in case’ tag. Not sure how many folks that get tags honestly hunt or are just hoping, hence lower harvest rates.”

With the increased bear activity in the cities and suburbs and two high profile incidents so far this year, this is clearly an issue the wildlife division has to take into consideration.