One small zap for bears equals one giant leap for Aspen property and store owners. As we've reported (see Bear Encounter Round Up), the town of Aspen, CO has been plagued by a record number of bear attacks and break-ins this year. But the people of Aspen have spoken, and they say enough is enough.
Bears broke into the outdoor freezer of Main Street Bakery & Cafe in Aspen at least four times this year before owner Bill Dinsmoor decided to get a little help from the The Department of Wildlife. The ever-inventive DOW lent him a high-voltage, low-amp electrified mat as an experiment to see if it really worked to fend off his furry intruders.
Much to Dinsmoor's delight, the mat worked like a charm: Neighbors reported seeing a bear attempt to break in, but once zapped, the bear left. “It sat there for 15 minutes looking at the freezer but eventually it left,” Dinsmoor said of his neighbor's observation.
Unfortunately, the mat was just a loaner. But as soon as the DOW came to collect, Dinsmoor went out and bought his own for around $80. "The Wrangler," made by electric fence company Gallagher, has kept bears from his freezer ever since.
Loaded with 600 volts, this baby packs a punch. But paired with a low-amp, it won't seriously harm a bear; instead, it gives just a slight zap, as with an electric fence. The idea is simple: When the the bear puts its from paws on the mat, it receives a shock. But don't worry, its safe for humans, just as long as you are wearing shoes.
As a member of Aspen's Commercial Core and Lodging Commission, Dinsmoor is pitching the idea of installing these kind of mats around the city's numerous turned-over dumpsters as well.
Extensive electric fencing has also been thrown into the mix of ideas to keep bears out, but the DOW warns that this method should be used cautiously, and not in highly populated areas. (One can imagine that kids and pets getting zapped probably wouldn't go over so well).
But in the meantime bear-plagued Aspenites can breath a sigh of relief—provided they have an "unwelcome" mat for bruins.