The Denver Post

2 bears caught breaking, entering, eating

- By Jason Auslander

Two bears cruising cars at the Aspen Business Center and in nearby neighborho­ods have been wreaking havoc on unlocked vehicles. And it’s not yet cold enough for them to give up the goodies and head into hibernatio­n.

The bears have been rewarded with food often enough after breaking into a car that they won’t hesitate to try to break in whether they smell food or not, said ReRe Baker, Pitkin County’s animal safety director. “People need to have no food products in their cars and lock the doors. They will get into your vehicle every chance they get.”

“One day, (a sheriff’s deputy) watched (one of the bears) try and get into eight cars,” Baker said.

She also warned people who live in the neighborho­od to keep windows and doors to homes and apartments locked because the bears know how to get in when doors are unlocked.

The two bears cruising the ABC neighborho­ods during the past month are a smaller, cinnamon-colored bear and a larger, dark-colored bear likely familiar to many area residents.

“I see them daily,” said Erik Larson, owner of the Aspen Crossfit gym at the ABC. “We call the light-colored one ‘Louie’ and the darker one is ‘Fred.’”

Larson said he watched Louie open the door to a Volkswagen Beetle recently and climb into the backseat. He said he went over and banged on the car and the bear climbed out and walked away.

“He just looked at me like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’” Larson said.

However, he didn’t lock the car doors after the bear left because it wasn’t his car and Louie was back inside the vehicle 15 minutes later, Larson said.

Bears have been a continual problem for local and state wildlife and law enforcemen­t officers this year because a lack of food in the mountains has drawn them to human-related sources of food in populated areas.

Since Oct. 1, city police have received 77 bear-related calls, said Cathleen Treacy, Aspen police records custodian.

“We definitely still have bears running around,” she said.

As of the end of September, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials in the Aspen area had euthanized 18 bears. The bears likely will be around until temperatur­es drop further and snow begins to accumulate, a state wildlife official has said.

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