Black Bear Sightings Force Closing of Powderhorn Ski Lift

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Skiers have one more week to hit the slopes at Powderhorn before the resort closes for the season. But thanks to the appearance of some unexpected visitors, officials have already shut down part of the mountain.

The skiers were out in full force Saturday, getting in some of their last runs of the season -- and according to the Powderhorn staff, they're not the only ones out and about on the mountain.

"Our ski patrol began to notice some tracks around, some suspicious looking tracks, on our slopes," said Sarah Allen, Marketing and Communications Director for Powderhorn. "They have been tracking at least two black bears that are hanging out on the west end of our mountain."

The staff says the furry creatures have popped up several times over the past few days, walking on the slopes and hanging out in trees near the West End Ski Lift. The Colorado Division of Wildlife says with Spring officially here, they expect bear sightings to increase.

"Not uncommon with this warm weather for them to start to wake up and look for food," said Randy Hampton, Public Information Officer for the Division of Wildlife.

Because of that, the Powderhorn staff made the call to shut down the West End Ski Lift and the western half of the mountain for the rest of the season.

"It's to protect the safety of our guests but also the bears," said Allen. "They don't need skiers coming around them in their environment when they're just coming out for spring."

The staff says while the closure is a bummer for both them and skiers, there is some good news coming out of it.

"We've dropped our lift ticket price to thirty-five dollars," said Allen. "So still good skiing and now it's a lot cheaper."

The DOW says it supports Powderhorn's decision to shut down the lift, and that the sightings shouldn't make any last minute skiers worried or keep them from having some fun.

"Bears don't wanna hang out with you any more than you wanna hang out with them," said Hampton.

So for now, Powderhorn says skiers will just have to be content staying on the east side of the mountain.

"It's sad to see this half of our mountain go, but with bears out, it's just a fun thing," said Allen. "This is nature running its course.

Powderhorn says this isn't the first time something like this has happened. Officials two years ago, they had to take similar actions after a mother black bear and her two cubs popped up on the mountain just before the end of ski season.

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