VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – With winter in the high country right around the corner the past month has seen a bevy of bears in the high country.

Some police departments are seeing a 500 percent increase over last year.

“Last week we did have a bear enter a residence where the homeowner was baking cakes,” Sgt. Justin Dill with the Vail Police Department said. “It walked right into the kitchen and got spooked once it saw the homeowner and ran away.”

Not spooked enough apparently, because that bear returned the next day looking for food once again.

“I’ve gone on a lot of calls the last month,” Dill said.

In August Vail officers responded to 81 bear calls. That’s nearly three a day.

“Compared to last year, where we had 16, it’s a pretty significant increase,” Dill said.

Vail isn’t alone. Throughout the central mountains Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say the drought at the beginning of the summer depleted berry supplies.

“It takes away that food supply they’re looking for, especially this time of year when they’re out there 20 hours a day trying to fill up on as many calories as they can get,” District Wildlife Manager Bill Andree said.

Right now the bears are going through a process where they are trying to get up to 20,000 calories a day.

Andree says trash is still the primary thing drawing bears out of the mountains and into civilization.

“Most of the bears in this part of the country aren’t getting much fat on them at this point,” Andree said. “They should really be starting to lay the fat on and at this point they aren’t.”

If the wild weather continues, the hibernation could start later.

“We could have a problem with a mild fall and a mild early winter and the bears could be out,” Andree said. “They could also be out just because they aren’t finding enough to eat.”

Parks and Wildlife says while there’s been a spike in reports in Vail, it’s actually been worse in towns like Avon and Eagle.


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