In SUMMER IN ASPEN 2019 magazine, editor David Krause comments on the preceding year. He mentions 3 major occurrences: the best ski season in recent memory, the Lake Christine fire, and what he calls “the summer of the bears”. We were there at the beginning of the Lake Christine fire in summer, 2018 and had a tough time getting to Aspen. This fire resulted in 500 house evacuations but, miraculously, very little loss of property. David mentions that it started just before the Fourth of July and lasted into October. Because it was somewhat under control when we left, I didn’t know that this fire continued for several more months, affecting the area near Basalt.
We had a serious bear encounter in Aspen a few years ago. The trapped-in-an-alley bear bolted from it, hopped across a table selling honey at the Saturday market, scrambled up a tree, and remained there until evening. It wasn’t the only bear incident that week. David says that during summer, 2018 there were bear sightings all over town and the police responded to just under 1,000 calls. Summer, 2019 turned out to be the summer of Bauhaus, not bears.
There’s another article about bears by Lauren Glendenning further in the magazine. In it Glendennig notes that when bears and humans come into contact, it is often the bears who lose. I recall the police had a lot of trouble getting the Aspen crowd to take this encounter seriously. Most bear watchers were using their cell phones to take photos of the trapped animal. Lauren points out that bears are local residents too, and that both Aspenites and visitors must respect bear rights and their wildness. She advises never feeding a bear, which she calls a death sentence because “The more you teach them that there are food sources here, the more they believe it and will keep coming back”. If they return after being airlifted into higher altitude wilderness, they might have to be destroyed. She also says to not leave food in a car, close windows, and lock doors “because a bear’s sense of smell is 100 times more sensitive than a human’s”. Aspen has special ordinances about trash collection, and trash containers about town are bear-proof. Glendenning reminds all locals to keep trash indoors until 6 am on the day of pickup.