DENVER (CBS4) – Officials in Colorado are trying to spread a warning about bears as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge gets set to start a series of stages in the high country.
Over the weekend wildlife officers shot and killed a bear near Aspen that they believe attacked campers. The attacks happened near Crater Lake in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness Area. The bear is believed to have attacked two campers in separate incidents.
During the professional race the cyclists will travel 500 miles through the Rocky Mountains and there will be fans camped out on the sides of roads to see them go by. Wildlife officers are concerned about the spectators and campers who will be pitching tents near Aspen, where bears have been aggressive recently.
One stage of the tour goes from Gunnison to Aspen.
There has been and traditionally is a lot of bear activity in Aspen and the surrounding mountains.
Even though wildlife officers killed the bear believed to be responsible for the recent attacks, there have been other bear-related problems and with thousands of spectators and racers planning to camp out they need to get a message out.
“They may say, ‘Hey, we don’t camp all the time, but this is just one race, let’s just go throw a tent up next to the road and stay overnight.’ We’re not really concerned necessarily about people who camp all the time and may be aware of the messages about how to camp in bear country,” Randy Hampton with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
While some race-goers may be savvy campers, the concern is for those who are not and a need to let them know about bear encounters and how to help avoid them.
Wildlife officers say the campers in the Maroon Bells were doing everything right to not attract bears, but there are some out there who were conditioned long ago by people who did all the wrong things to associate tents with food — an association that could mean trouble.