Colorado bears waking from winter hideouts
The winter months may have been filled with hot, hearty meals to combat the cold and snow for some. But for one of Colorado’s native residents, spring is the time to strike out in search of the food they’ve been missing for the past few months.
Bears throughout Colorado have already or will begin waking up this month. For Western Slope residents, the first 70-degree sunny hike of the spring should serve as a reminder to be aware of these hungry, furry, four-legged neighbors.
While area Colorado Parks and Wildlife official Dan Cacho said he hadn’t heard of any bear sightings in Glenwood Springs so far this spring, he said the first ones usually occur around mid-to-late April.
According to CPW officials, bears have already been seen emerging from hibernation in other parts of Colorado. A bear was reported to have broken into a car in Breckenridge in search of food the first week of April, causing severe damage to the vehicle.
“Small behaviors by people can make a huge difference for bears,” Tom Davies, district wildlife manager in Summit County, said in a press release.
“We need people to keep cars and garages locked, keep attractants out of reach, and properly use and lock bear-proof trash cans,” he said. “When you are living in bear country, you have a responsibility to follow ordinances and be conscientious. If you don’t, you should expect that we will be issuing warnings and fines.”
Two bears in Breckenridge reportedly had access to food all winter and didn’t hibernate, and actually put on over 60 pounds, Davies related.
CPW spokesperson Mike Porras said there have already been reports of bears in Aspen.
He added that, though it was still a little early to see the type of bear activity the Western Slope will have through the summer, in many areas of the state bears are up and about.
Though most human-bear interactions occur in the late summer, a late freeze or prolonged dry spring weather may push black bears to search for human food sources when natural food becomes scarce.
Bears are omnivores and primarily eat vegetation, according to wildlife officials. However, if that natural food is not available bears may wander closer to homes and find whatever food they can in trash and other sources.
Tips to prevent human/bear conflicts include:
- Keep garbage in a well-secured enclosure and only put out garbage on the morning of pickup; bring empty cans back inside before dark.
- Use a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster
- Clean all garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free. The scent of ammonia can deter bears.
- Take down all bird feeders by April 15 – bird feeders are a major source of bear/human conflicts. Birds don’t need to be fed during the spring and summer.
- Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside – never provide food sources for any wildlife.
- Keep garage doors and windows closed and locked, especially between dusk and dawn.
- Don’t leave attractants such as snacks, food wrappers, gum, or even scented hand lotions in your car; and always lock vehicle doors.
- Don’t leave food outside while camping. If bear boxes aren’t available, put all food in a vehicle.
For more information about Living with Bears in Colorado, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/bears.
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