Bear sightings in Parker and Castle Rock have wildlife authorities issuing some warnings to suburban homeowners.
The Parker Police Department received five separate phone calls June 6 and June 7 from residents who reported seeing a black bear climbing through yards and wandering along open space areas. Police believe it was the same bear spotted in different areas of town.
Debbie Osborne, who lives on a horse ranch on Motsenbocker Road just south of Clarke Farms, discovered that the 13 koi fish she kept in a pond were missing. Thinking they had been stolen, she called police, who quickly discovered signs of a bear.
“One of the first signs was my flowering bush next to the pond was squashed and destroyed, like something sat in the middle of it,” Osborne said.
One of the kois was found dead nearby with large bite marks in it and a woman who boards her horses at the ranch discovered large paw prints in the mud. Osborne said she will replace the kois, which she had in the pond for 12 years.
The first report of a bear came in to Parker police dispatchers at 6:40 a.m. June 6. A resident in the area of Indian Brook Circle and Buffalo Gap Trail, just northwest of Hess and Chambers roads, saw the bear jumping over fences. A witness who lives in the same area called at 7:30 a.m., and yet another person called police around 5:45 p.m. to say that the bear was in the front yard of a neighbor’s house at Copper Creek Lane and Copper Creek Circle, said Sherry Corcoran, public information officer for the Parker Police Department.
Officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife were called in, but the bear was not tranquilized and trapped because it did not show any signs of aggression and was on the move along natural drainage areas.
A resident of Cottonwood reported a black bear walking down a residential street near Perry Clover Way and Wheatgrass Circle, several miles north of the original sightings, at 11:40 a.m. the next day.
Jennifer Churchill, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s northeastern region, said the bear likely followed creek beds and gulches that provide significant cover and found itself in suburbia.
“It’s not completely uncommon for bears to wind up in these areas,” she said. “When the young males get kicked out of the family group, they go out looking for new territory and they go pretty far and wide.”
A large, male black bear was spotted in Castle Rock on June 8 near State Highway 86 and Founders Boulevard, and again near Crowfoot Valley Road later that day. Wildlife officers instructed Castle Rock police to chase the bear west from the area, said Karen McGrath, community relations supervisor for the Town of Castle Rock.
Churchill said the wildlife division has received numerous reports of bears this spring from throughout the metro area, including one near her office at 84th Avenue and Pecos Street in Federal Heights. That bear was relocated. Black bears typically don’t pose a danger to humans, but could prey on small, young or ill animals.
“They’re walking stomachs all the way through Thanksgiving,” she said.
Churchill says any land west of Interstate 25 is considered bear habitat. Osborne said she was surprised the bear was able to travel so far in the open without being spotted, but says she is not concerned about the presence of bears. Osborne said despite the loss of her fish, she feels special that her property was visited by the bear and has a story to tell her grandchildren.
Bear avoidance tips
- Don’t feed bears, and don’t put out food for other wildlife that attracts bears.
- Only use bird feeders during hibernation.
- Burn food off barbecue grills and clean after each use.
- Don’t leave food, trash, coolers, air fresheners or anything that smells in your vehicle.
- Pick fruit before it ripens and clean up fallen fruit.
Source: Parker Police Department