LITTLETON, Colo. (KDVR) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Friday a black bear hit and killed by a car in Littleton is one they’ve previously had to relocate and, to their knowledge, was living “happily-ever-after in Clear Creek” until the unfortunate incident happened.
Wildlife officers said in August 2015, they responded to a property in Conifer after a landlord reported having goats killed by a bear.
The report stated that up to five bears visited the property and black hair was found on the fence line.
Two days later, wildlife officers trapped a bear with brown hair. Thinking they’ve trapped the wrong bear, officers relocated it and gave it green ear tags with No. 416 as a unique identifier.
That bear was released in western Clear Creek County (see video of its release below provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife).
Ty Petersburg was the wildlife officer who responded and trapped the bear at the site of the livestock conflict. Petersburg is now CPW’s assistant chief of law enforcement. He shared his memories from this bear’s relocation.
“If memory serves, it was a young bear that I caught and he took some effort,” Petersburg said in a media statement. “I moved him to Grizzly Creek in Clear Creek County, which is near Grays and Torreys Peaks, up toward the Continental Divide. I do remember that I tried to get video of the release with a GoPro.
“I was trying to secure it to the bars on the front of the trailer, pointed into the bear trap. The bear had woken up from the tranquilizers at this point, so I was trying to wrap the little arm attachment for the camera around the vertical bars with him awake inside. He got mad and swiped at me, catching the camera before I could get it set, and it rolled around in the trap with him for a while.”
CPW said that based on records, this bear was relocated to mitigate conflict. Relocation is one option to address human-bear conflict, but it isn’t usually wildlife officers’ first choice and isn’t a fix-all solution. Securing trash, protecting livestock and removing attractants are all better measures that everyone can take to avoid and prevent conflict.
Based on known information and the records, the male bear hit and killed Friday was likely eight years or older. It weighed in the ballpark of 150 pounds when picked up by a wildlife officer.
Wildlife officials said while it is difficult to know why this bear decided to travel into Littleton, it is possible this bear was kicked out of its territory in the high country by a younger bear.
Because it was older, it may have been more willing to take risks and travel further in search of food, especially during the months leading up to hibernation, going across busy roads and highways where it eventually traveled down in elevation into the metro area.
Wildlife officers had received a report two days earlier of a bear near the location it was hit on Friday in Littleton.
“The events from this morning are sad and we hope the person associated with the accident will be okay,” said CPW Deputy Regional Manager Kristin Cannon. “When we live on the landscape with bears, these things are going to happen. We can’t always avoid them, wildlife is going to go where it wants to go even across our busy highways and streets. If you want to keep bears safe, be sure you drive alertly and safely, scanning for wildlife, and do your part not to attract bears into town by securing all attractants.”
This was one of two bears killed on the road in Denver metro area on Friday. The second was on Tomah Road northwest of Larkspur.