WILDLIFE & WILDFIRES IN ASPEN

It’s what defines us – the rivers, the mountains, the trees and the land. The outdoors are the reason Aspen is beloved by people around the world, and we strive to keep the pristine beauty intact for generations to come. 

WILDLIFE:

  • Bears, as adorable and cuddly as they might appear to be, are real wild animals with real teeth, sharp claws and incredible strength. 
    • Aspen has black bears. There are no grizzlies in this neck of the woods. 
    • Bears often come into downtown Aspen looking for sustenance, particularly during drought years when their food supply in the mountains is scarce. 
    • Never intentionally feed a bear! A fed bear is a dead bear. 
    • Do not leave food in your car – bears are known to break windows to get to food. Believe it or not, they also know how to open car doors. So, while Aspen is not known for theft, it’s a good idea to lock your car doors to prevent bear damage. 
    • Mothers with cubs are dangerous. If you find yourself near, or between a mother and her cubs, back away, shout in a deep voice, and try to make yourself appear large. 
    • Never turn your back on a bear. 
  • We are seeing an increase to the moose population. If you find yourself in the vicinity of a moose, back away slowly and treat it with respect. Moose do not fear humans as much as most other wild animals, do not let this fool you.  
    • Moose view dogs as coyotes, which are a threat, and they will attack, which is why you should always keep your dog on a leash in common moose territory (which in 2019 does include Smuggler Mountain Road)
    • Never walk between a cow and a calf. 
    • Never approach a moose, walk the other direction and take the long way around. 
    • A moose may display warning signs before they become aggressive such as: raising the hair on their neck, laid back ears and licking of the snout. (More information from CPW here
    • If a moose feels threatened they will attack, they will often bluff charge first, but if they do make contact they will kick with their hooves and trample you. 
    • If a moose displays aggressive behavior or begins to charge, run as fast as you can and try to put a large object, such as a boulder, car, or tree, between you. 
  • In addition we also have a healthy mountain lion population. 
    • In the unlikely event you are confronted by a mountain lion – fight back! Cats don’t like to be challenged. 

 

Un-bear-lievable!

  • In 2017 the Aspen Police Department made a formal request to Aspen visitors and locals alike: Please don’t take selfies with bears, or ever chase bears to get a photo or video. Social media stardom might be great for humans, but crowds that gather after a bear posting on Instagram puts the animals into a state of distress, and they may then act aggressively towards humans. Trust us, this never works out well for the bear. Your bear post might mean the end of the bear’s life.

 

WILDFIRES

  • Winter snowpack and springtime runoff directly effects our wildfire risks, which are particularly high in drought years. 
  • When visiting Aspen, we ask that you take note of the wildfire status in the area. Aspen is located in Pitkin County.  
  • Never let a campfire burn unattended, and when extinguishing a fire, water it until you can handle the embers. 
  • Use existing fire rings or fire pits. Be aware of low-hanging branches overhead, and never cut lives trees or branches for fires. 
  • Properly extinguish and dispose of cigarettes. 
  • Respect wildfire restrictions. Sometimes this means a celebration without fireworks, or a night of camping without the fire – because just one spark can ignite a much larger problem.  
  • More Colorado Wildfire Prevention Tips