Mon August 22, 2011

Bike Race Campers Cautioned About Bears

As thousands of fans prepare to camp along state highways to watch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Colorado wildlife officials want to remind campers about possible conflicts with hungry bears.

The caution comes after two separate attacks on tent campers this weekend in two sites near Aspen.  Late last week, U.S. Forest Service officials restricted access to another Aspen-area campground because of an aggressive bear encounter.

Race fans and other campers who booked sites at Difficult Campground and can’t make other arrangements can still go through with their stay, but in hard-sided campers only.

“It’s unfortunate that this has happened at this time; however, the US Forest Service, in conjunction with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, has decided to err on the side of safety,” says Mike Porras, Public Information Officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  “We just want to let people know that, yes, you can still come to this campsite, but you might want to sleep in your car for your own safety.”

Porras urges anyone camping along the race route to follow sensible precautions to reduce the possibility of bear encounters. The stage race makes its way from Gunnison to Aspen over Cottonwood and Independence Passes on Wednesday.

More information about camping along the race route from CDOT.

Camping tips from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Stash Your Trash - Use bear-proof containers when available. If they’re full, double bag trash and lock it in your trunk or RV. Never leave trash outside.

Store Attractants Safely - Store food, beverages and toiletries in air tight containers and lock them in the trunk of your car. Many bears have discovered that coolers, bags and boxes are full of food; never leave them in your tent or anywhere a bear could see, smell or reach.

Keep a Clean Camp - Bears are attracted to odors of all kinds and will investigate anything interesting in hopes of finding food.

Keep a Clean Tent - Don’t bring anything with an odor into your tent—that includes all foods, bever­ages, scented toiletries, gum, toothpaste, sunscreen, candles, and insect repellant. Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked in; store them with your food.

Lock RVs and Vehicles - Close windows and lock your vehicle and RV when you leave your camp site and at night before you go to sleep.