It's mid-December, and in the woods around snowy Basalt, Colorado, local bears are all nestling now in their dens, peacefully dozing for a long winter's sleep -- all, that is, except for one.
Wildlife officials say that a young black bear has been spotted, inexplicably still awake, roaming down streets and through backyards in search of a bite to eat. It is believed that something, natural or unnatural, stirred the animal from its hibernation far too early, and now it's hungry.
But instead of trapping the wayward bear, or worse, shooting it, wildlife officers and the public have taken a far more sympathetic approach to the sleepless animal: just letting it be.
Mike Porras, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, tells the Aspen Times that the bear isn't posing any danger, but advised the community to be vigilant with their garbage.
"They want to let the bear be a bear," says Porras.
Officials believe that once the animal realizes that there's no food to be had, it will return to the forest and give sleep another try -- a humane and considerate solution, one that doesn't add to the restless bear's already frustrating predicament.