Woodland Park High School senior Alyssa Meier wants to be a biologist but had run out of high school biology classes to take. That's what prompted her to take on a senior seminar project for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
She talked to local wildlife manager Tonya Sharp who asked her if she would conduct a survey of bear activity in Woodland Park as an independent study and service project.
Meier presented the results of her project to the Woodland Park City Council on March 7.
“I surveyed local restaurants and asked them if they had a bear problem,” she said. “I was surprised that not everyone who sees bears, even when they get into their trash, thinks they're a problem. About one-third of restaurant owners had bears raiding their trash but only one reported an incident to the police.”
She compiled information and mapped bear sightings in the city. Her results showed that one area near downtown on Woodland Avenue had 17 percent of 80 bear sightings, more sightings than any other area of town. She also talked about a bear that had to be killed recently because it was hanging out near Gateway Elementary School.
“We have a bear problem whether we think we do or not,” she said. “Here in Woodland Park we like our lifestyle and we like our wildlife but a habituated (to humans) bear is a dangerous bear.”
She made several suggestions about what to do about the bears. City Manager David Buttery agreed with her request that the city put bear aware information on its website and said he would work with Sharp on other things the city can do about its bear problem.