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Mountain News: The evidence that delivered a big bear a death sentence

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ASPEN, Colo. – If you're a bear in Aspen, 90 seconds can get you life. Or so seems to be the story after a 181-kilogram bear was caught scrounging among the meaty remnants in the trash dumpster behind a restaurant called Steakhouse 316.

The restaurant had received a citation in early August for failure to secure its garbage. The fine was US$250. The manager, Brent Guthas, told the Aspen Daily News that he had been calling the trash company every day, seeking a new container. He said the employees had been instructed to keep the lid secured.

But then, during about 90 seconds of lapse as employees returned inside the restaurant, he said, the bear dived into the dumpster. An employee told the bruin to scram, and it did—lacerating the leg of the employee on its way out.

This is where the story gets interesting. If the injury was minor, there was DNA in the wound. The Aspen Times explains that state wildlife officials used this DNA to establish that a suspected bear that had been immobilized was indeed the culprit. Also, the bite marks on the restaurant employee lined up with those of the bear's teeth.

For this bad deed, the bear was put to sleep—for good. A necropsy revealed it was healthy.

Matt Yamashita, the state wildlife manager for the Aspen area, said because the bear was so large, had attacked a person, and continued to roam within Aspen, it was a threat to people. "Based on our experience, there was no chance this bear could be rehabilitated after it bit a person," he said.

The case has nudged recyclables into the community conversation. The Aspen Times reports that police want it clear that food containers that haven't been cleaned out can also attract bears and other wildlife. If not, trash containers approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee can make the tainted recyclables off-limits to bears, grizzly or otherwise. They cost $250.

Banff, the town, on the cusp of cap for building footage

BANFF, Alberta – A 175-room hotel planned in downtown Banff may be the last one. The resort community located entirely within Banff National Park is nearing its federally mandated cap on commercial development.

In 1998, Canada capped commercial development at 32,516 metres more than what then existed. The cap was provoked by concerns about the harm of rampant development within Canada's flagship national park.

This hotel didn't chew up all that space. It has the space in the recently demolished Swiss Village Hotel but will use additional space allowed under a random allocation awarded in 2013. Other commercial space in that same allocation went primarily to retailers and restaurants.

Four other sites in Banff were also awarded additional square metres in the 2013 allocation, said David Michaels, the town's manager of development services, and there are other medium-sized allotments.

Beyond that, Banff will not get bigger and taller, but it's likely to be redeveloped, Michaels said, using existing commercial floor area in "new and exciting ways that maximize the commercial potential of property."

Construction of the new hotel likely won't start for a couple of years. The Outlook described the hotel that was demolished as "aging."

"Seen better days. Would not return," wrote one reviewer on Trip Advisor, an opinion shared by many.

A good location, they agreed amid the many complaints, but that only goes so far.

Nobody died but the lions in these cases in Colorado

KREMMLING, Colo. – It's been a bad month for big cats doing what big cats do in Colorado.

Consider first the man who was being followed by a mountain lion in the rumple of ridges between Winter Park and Steamboat Springs.

Richard Marriott told the Sky Hi News that he had watched the sun go down and then was making his way toward his weekend cabin. It was getting dark, and he had an eerie feeling. "It's just funny how your instinct comes into play," he said.

Walking under a bright moon, he heard something rustling in the forest behind him. He thought it was a deer. But the noises continued. As he turned around, he saw a mountain lion. "Oh crap, this is really happening," he thought.

The cat didn't attack, and Marriott backed up, keeping his eyes fixed on the lion. Tripped on a log, he thought the mountain lion would surely pounce. "But luckily, it came up and just kind of swiped my leg," he told the Sky Hi News. "In all honesty, I think it was curious."

But as it did, he jabbed at the lion with his pocketknife, enough to draw blood. The mountain lion continued to back him down the trail, and Marriot said he screamed, attracting attention of neighbours, who ran off the lion.

The next morning wildlife officers with dogs tracked down the mountain lion and shot it.

In the foothills southwest of Denver, another mountain lion made a mistake. A boy was running from a trampoline to a house and was attacked by a young mountain lion. The father of the boy ran off the lion, which was later killed.

Mountain lions have attacked three people in Colorado this year, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. There have been 22 attacks since 1990, with three resulting in deaths.