In an unsettling incident that unfolded on October 23, 2023, a surprised security guard found himself face-to-face with a surprised bear in the kitchen of Aspen’s lavish St. Regis Resort. The news was confirmed on Tuesday by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, highlighting the rising tensions between humans and wildlife in the region.
Responding to reports of a bear sighted within the resort’s premises, the on-duty security guard took it upon himself to investigate the situation. The bear and the guard startled each other when the latter turned a corner into the kitchen. Reacting instinctively, the bear swiped at the guard, knocking him down to the ground.
Managing to escape the bear’s clutches, the guard was quick to dial 911. Police and an ambulance arrived promptly, whisking him off to a local hospital where he received treatment for scratches on his back. Although he was discharged the following morning, details concerning his overall condition remain undisclosed.
Within hours of the incident, wildlife officers arrived at the St. Regis to locate the bear. While they successfully identified the animal’s whereabouts, they were unable to tranquilize and capture it, citing public safety concerns. Further investigation revealed that the bear had gained access to the hotel through a series of doors located near the courtyard.
The rising number of black bears in Colorado, estimated to be around 20,000, comes at a time when more people are exploring the great outdoors. With bear activity typically peaking from mid-March through November, human-bear conflicts are notably on the rise. Only weeks before this incident, a mother bear and her cub were killed in Colorado Springs after charging at two young boys. Similarly, bear attacks have been reported across state lines, including a 73-year-old woman in Montana and a severely mauled hunter.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attributes most human-bear conflicts to unsecured attractants like garbage and human food. Their advice for reducing such incidents includes maintaining a distance of at least 100 yards from bears, securing food supplies, and resisting the urge to run if a bear is encountered.
This startling event serves as a cautionary tale, underlining the urgency for stringent safety measures and public awareness campaigns. As luxury resorts and campgrounds alike find themselves as stages for human-wildlife interactions, the question remains: how can we better coexist with the creatures that share our environment?
Equipping for Safety: The Role of Bear Spray and Proactive Measures in Human-Bear Coexistence
While the shocking episode at the St. Regis Resort reveals the unpredictability of such encounters, it also brings attention to the importance of preparedness and proactive safety measures. One such invaluable tool in preventing bear attacks is bear spray.
The Importance of Bear Spray
Bear spray is an aerosol canister containing a concentrated form of capsaicin, the compound that makes chili peppers hot. When deployed, it forms a cloud that temporarily impairs a bear’s vision and respiratory system, providing precious moments for a person to leave the area. Research has shown that bear spray is effective in deterring aggressive bears in 92% of cases, making it a highly recommended item for anyone venturing into bear country.
How to Use Bear Spray
If you find yourself in a situation requiring the use of bear spray, aim the canister at the bear’s face and deploy a sustained burst. The spray is most effective when released in a downward angle to account for wind direction. Do not use bear spray like insect repellent; it is not meant to be applied to humans or equipment. Always read the instructions before venturing out and consider taking a bear spray training course.
Additional Bear Safety Tips
- Maintain Awareness: Pay attention to your surroundings, especially in areas known for bear activity.
- Make Noise: Keep bears aware of your presence by making noise, especially when visibility or audibility is low.
- Secure Food and Garbage: Bears have a keen sense of smell. Always secure your food and garbage in bear-proof containers or hang them from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from the trunk.
- Keep a Safe Distance: If you do encounter a bear, keep a distance of at least 100 yards and never corner the animal.
- Do Not Run: Running could trigger a chase response. Stand your ground, speak in a calm, assertive voice, and slowly back away if the bear is not approaching.
- Know the Bear: Different species may require different responses. Black bears are often less aggressive than grizzlies and may be scared away by making yourself larger and noisier.
Training and Education
Equipping staff with bear spray and training them on how to use it could be a pivotal step for establishments like the St. Regis Resort. Furthermore, comprehensive bear safety training should be made mandatory for security personnel and other staff members working in areas where bear encounters are likely.
In conclusion, bear spray and sound bear safety practices are not just options; they are necessities for those who work, live, or recreate in bear-populated areas. Implementing these measures could go a long way in reducing human-bear conflicts and the tragedies that can result from them.