JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is investigating after someone illegally removed the head of a bear after it was struck and killed by a vehicle on Highway 285 sometime Wednesday evening.
The Colorado State Patrol in Golden said there was a crash involving the bear on the highway near Windy Point, which is between Indian Hills and Aspen Park, around 9:30 p.m. and troopers were called to respond several hours later.
When troopers and CPW officers responded they found the bear on the side of the highway with its head removed.
Both agencies said the driver of the vehicle that hit the bear and did not remove the animal's head and they're working to determine who did.
"For road kills, you can lawfully obtain the meat of wildlife if it is salvageable by processing the carcass on-site," said Clay.
A permit can be obtained within 48 hours from CPW to legally have possession of that meat.
"That does not mean you can take trophy parts from road-killed animals; for bears you would not be able to obtain head, hide or claws with a road kill permit."
CSP urged anyone who saw something in the area between 9:30 p.m. and midnight to call CPW at 303-329-4501. The agency said they were particularly interested in a small gold pickup.
Without a permit or a license, nobody can possess wildlife, according to CPW spokesperson Jason Clay.
Specifically for a bear, you cannot possess a skull, claws, or hide without a proper license or permit. If someone does, they could be charged with illegal possession of wildlife. Clay said.
For illegal possession of a bear between March 1-Sept. 1, violators could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by 6-18 months in jail and/or fines between $500 and $5,000. Another statute could be applied as well that could impose another $1,000 plus surcharges in fines, according to Clay.
The person could also receive a penalty of 20 points against his/her hunting and fishing privileges.
In Colorado, hunters with licenses for a bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, black bear, mountain lion, or bobcat are required to bring in the animal for an inspection by a CPW employee before being able to lawfully keep possession of that animal.
The pelt and head of all hunter-harvested black bears must be presented to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife employee by the hunter within five days of harvest. The pelts will be sealed and data on age, sex, and location of harvest will be collected. It's part of an effort to monitor the number of bears killed and gather other important biological information like age and sex of animals harvested by hunting time.
Bear hunting season opens Sept. 2 and can run through Nov. 22, depending on which hunting license you have (archery, muzzleloader, riffle, private-land-only rifle), Clay said.
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