Colorado officials are seeking help from bear hunters to keep the Aspen bear population in check this season.
In August, the US Forest Service closed 11 camp sites at Crater Lake near the city of Aspen, after receiving multiple reports of bears raiding campsites.
As the bear hunting season enters its fourth week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are asking bear hunters to focus their efforts in the Crater Lake region to keep the Aspen bear population in check.
Wildlife officials don’t want to see a repeat of 2012 when bear encounters in Aspen hit an all time high. Since then, the state has issued more bear tags than in previous years, and they may offer more this season.
“There’s a lot of people out there that want to hunt bears,” Kevin Wright, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told the Aspen Times.
Wright said he doesn’t believe the bears are responsible for the increased number of bear conflicts in the region. August and September bring a high volume of hikers and campers to Crater Lake and the surrounding Maroon Bells mountains.
According to Wright, many visiting campers have been “sloppy” with with their food storage and trash practices, creating more opportunities for bears to wander into campgrounds.
No campers were injured during the August bear raids around Crater Lake, but the Forestry Service may still leave the campsites closed for the rest of the year.
Colorado has two bear hunting seasons. The first of this year began on Sept. 2 and will run until Sept. 30. Additional seasons will coincide with Colorado’s deer and elk seasons.
Have you camped or hunted in this region? Have you had any experiences with bears in the area? Let us know in the comments below.