Who We Are

Daniela Kohl, Founder of the Roaring Fork Valley Bear Coalition

We are a volunteer based 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization and our mission is protecting the lives of black bears by working on proactive measures to prevent and reduce negative human-bear conflicts.

Daniela Kohl founded Roaring Fork Bears in 2019 as a part-time resident for over 21 years. Her love and support for bears comes from her childhood growing up in Switzerland & France where she enjoyed hiking, mountain climbing and Nordic ski skating, biathlon and target shooting. There were not too many bears but the occasional European Syrian brown bear was spotted in the Alps between Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland.

In 2014, Daniela became deeply involved in rescuing a tiny grizzly bear cub from a roadside zoo used for photo ops and pay-to-play sessions in South Florida. This was the beginning of her hands-on involvement with bears and when she started actively working with a Florida bear protection advocacy group. She experienced the positive impact that raising awareness and retrofitting trash cans could have on reducing human-bear conflicts. These successes were a major influence on starting her own bear protection grassroots movement desperately needed in the Roaring Fork Valley, Glenwood Springs and the City of Aspen where bear conflicts were increasing due to urban sprawl and outdoor recreational activities.

Roaring Fork Bears knows the importance of supporting and helping local wildlife shelters and rehabbers and is proud to support the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation and it’s founder Nanci Limbach. PSSWF is one of the only private Bear Rehab facilities left in Colorado, they receive no government funding and rely solely on private donations. For more info visit their website.

In 2016 after joining the IBA (International Association for Bear Research and Management).  Daniela had a serendipitous meeting with its founder and Chair of the Bear Conservation Fund, Julia Bevins. The two developed a wonderful friendship sharing the same love and passion for bears both in the wild and captivity. Daniela’s commitment was increasing and she began researching and learning everything she could about bear behavior, biology, research, living and recreating in bear country etc. This knowledge also connected her with some of the best bear biologists and researchers and these experts continue to provide wonderful support and great advice to RFB.

Roaring Fork Bears is consistently working on innovative ways and solutions to get the public more engaged to coexist peacefully with our beautiful black bears. We know that with the help from local government agencies, proper enforcement and effective waste management that we can all keep bears protected and people safe. Since we have the privilege to live in prime black bear habitat, it is up to us to fundamentally change our behavior towards bears and how to keep them from coming into the city.

Learning the difficult choices our wildlife managers have to make and walking a fine line between politics and the public with increasing sprawl into undeveloped areas can be gut wrenching. By working alongside CPW on “Bear-Aware” programs and connecting communities and partnering with cities, towns, municipalities are of key importance.

Nate Thomas (left) & Nate Balko (right) of BSA Aspen Troop 201

We are giving out educational Bear Aware and BearWise® materials such as door hangers, magnets, big stickers for trash cans and offer free of charge retrofitting kits for making existing trash cans bear resistant. A local scout, Nate Thomas, made these efforts the focus of his Eagle Scout project in 2019-20, and now we have an exclusive collaboration of BSA Aspen Troop 201.

Scoutmaster Michael Bair and the troop committee chair Lyn Bair have been instrumental in creating awareness in many aspects of Roaring Fork Bears, Michael is 5th generation in the Roaring Fork Valley and Lyn is a retired teacher and principal from RE-1 schools, their long understanding and commitment to the valley are great assets to our bear group. To date we have retro-fitted hundreds of cans into bear resistant ones for communities in mobile homes and residents in the Roaring Fork Valley.

We encourage residents to buy a bear resistant trash can (BRC). With the support of our generous donors, community and fundraising events, we hope to provide a source for heavily-discounted BRCs that are compliant with local trash companies for Roaring Fork Valley residents who are committed to using one and are in most need.

We know that bears are highly evolved, altruistic and sentient with the intelligence of the great apes. The bears have family units and are known to share territory of food sources with unrelated bears. As a larger community maybe we can find a peaceful and respectful way to coexist with these amazing complex creatures. As an organization, we are committed to helping our community members learn more and set an example for everyone that lives or recreates in bear country.

If you would like to support our efforts, please donate to our cause today.  Send checks to P.O.Box 932, Carbondale, CO 81623 or call Daniela directly for more information.