Aspen is centered in prime bear habitat, and therefore, the Aspen Police Department frequently is summoned to situations involving bears. Bears are wild animals and are unpredictable. While they prefer to avoid human contact, many bears have become used to spending some of their time in Aspen. Habituated bears will enter urban areas in search of human food sources. So, it is common for bears to venture into the middle of downtown Aspen during both day and night.
Bears are a key component to Aspen’s environment, and it is up to us to take the appropriate precautions to keep them safe. Removing in-town attractants is the most efficient way to reduce bear activity in town. To better secure attractants, the Aspen Police Department is working with cooperating agencies and businesses on education, prevention, and enforcement.
There are many things that humans can do to reduce interactions with bears.
If you encounter a bear when you're out-and-about, remember that they are wild animals.
- Never approach or gather around bears, which can be considered harassment of wildlife.
- Stay calm, don't run.
- Back away slowly.
- Blow a whistle, clap your hands, and make other loud noises.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Never feed a bear.
- Leave cubs alone.
- Keep pets on leash.
- Fight back if attacked.
There are many actions you can take year-round, and especially in the early spring, to deter bear activity in and around your home.
- Secure your trash (it's the law).
- Remove bird feeders.
- Clean BBQs.
- Keep pet food indoors.
- Close garage doors.
- Secure windows and doors.
- Be responsible about trash and bird feeders.
- Don’t leave food or trash inside your vehicle.
- Pick fruit before it ripens and clean up fallen fruit.
If the bear remains and you feel it presents a threat, call the non-emergent dispatch line (970-920-5310) or 911 in an emergency.
Bear Trash Laws
Keeping your trash secure and out of reach of bears is not only your duty, it's the law.
- Wildlife-resistant refuse containers are required for curbside pick-up.
- Trash must be kept indoors (garage or house) until 6 a.m. on the day of pick-up.
- Trash can only be left outdoors if it is stored in a wildlife-proof refuse container or wildlife-resistant dumpster. Learn the difference between the two.
Failure to comply with the City of Aspen's Trash Ordinance may result in:
- 1st Offense: $250 fine
- 2nd Offense: $500 fine
- 3rd Offense: $999 fine and mandatory court appearance
Colorado Parks & Wildlife is our partner in bear management practices. Learn more about being bear aware on their website.