Beware the bears: Hibernation season ending
As the snow thaws and Garfield County residents begin recreating across the county and deep into their backyards, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials want to remind folks to be extra cautious as bears should be waking up throughout the state over the next few weeks.
“Whether you live in Garfield County or Boulder, the message is the same,” said CPW Northwest Region Public Information Officer Mike Porras. “We want to get the information out there to stop people from repeating bad habits each spring.”
As such, the state-wide wildlife organization recently released a reminder for all Colorado residents to be “Bear Aware” as the early spring is the time “bears emerge from hibernation” and “all Coloradans need to be responsible and take steps to minimize human-bear interactions.”
“It’s critical for folks to remember that if a bear finds a meal in or around your home and becomes unafraid of people, it is more likely that a human-bear interaction can occur,” Mark Lamb, CPW area wildlife manager, said in the statement.
“Careless behavior by people, whether leaving your trash out, keeping a dirty campsite or, worst of all, purposely feeding a bear, is most often what leads to these interactions,” Lamb said.
Porras said one the reasons officials see so many conflicts around the state is the availability of food to bears.
“Too many people leave trash and pet food out,” he added.
CPW recommends homeowners keep garbage in a well-secured enclosure and to only put out garbage on the morning of pickup and to use bear-resistant trash cans or dumpsters.
Carbondale residents approached the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners last month in the hopes of getting a stricter trash ordinance to keep bears and other wildlife away from unincorporated parts near town.
With the support of Carbondale and Glenwood Springs officials, they sought to extend the trash regulations outward to a two-mile development radius in an effort to help discourage bears from coming farther into town.
The county commissioners intend to hold future workshops on the issue.
“If 99 out of 100 homes are doing what they need to be doing, but one household is not … that is all it takes,” Porras explained. “Once the bear learns there is food there, the entire community becomes at risk. The entire community must do their part.”
As outdoor recreation becomes a part of residents’ daily routines, Porras said it is typically rare to see a bear on a hike or camping trip, but warned against feeding them if you do spot one.
“Number one thing when you see a bear is not to feed it,” he said. “If you’re out on a hike and think it’s a cool thing to toss them a power bar, keep in mind, you put everyone that sees that bear in the future at risk.”
He added black bears don’t typically hunt humans, but if you encounter a bear showing aggression, don’t back down.
“If you encounter a bear showing aggression, you want to stand your ground,” he explained. “Wave your arms, don’t back down and show you’re not prey. Teach it you are not something it wants to attack.”
He recommends that if you’re worried about bears in the wild, bear spray will do the trick.
He added that with camping season approaching, residents should practice safe food storage as food storage while camping can be just as critical as food storage around the home.
The CPW website is filled with tips and brochures to keep Colorado residents “Bear Aware” this season and those that want to know more about their furry neighbors can visit livingwithbears.com.
CPW has tips and brochures on its website to keep Colorado residents “Bear Aware” this season.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.