Bears such as this sow and her three cubs, occupying a tree in downtown Aspen last summer, occupied plenty of the police department’s time.
Bears such as this sow and her three cubs, occupying a tree in downtown Aspen last summer, occupied plenty of the police department's time. (Aspen Times file)

ASPEN — The Aspen Police Department's annual crime and police-call statistics paint a picture of just how safe and small the town really is.

The statistics, which the department released Thursday, show that the biggest problem police faced in 2012 — from a sheer numbers perspective — was the plethora of bears in the city from early summer through mid-autumn.

In 2008, police dealt with 82 calls regarding problem bears. The figure swelled to 351 calls in 2010 and 1,040 last year: a nearly 1,200 percent increase over the four-year period.

Reasons for the big influx of bears last year have been well-documented. Because the spring drought caused a reduction in their natural mountain food supply, such as serviceberries and chokecherries, bears appeared everywhere. The downtown alleys were full of them between midnight and dawn, especially in areas behind restaurants that often failed to secure their garbage containers properly.

During the daytime, bears often could be found atop crabapple and other fruit trees.