Smarter than the average bear?
August 17, 2007
I have been carefully following the bear problem in the Roaring Fork area. I have noticed that two simple deterrents have never been mentioned in any of the articles I’ve read. The first is bear spray (which is actually a fog that goes out 30 feet), and the other is air horns. Both can be purchased at Sports Authority or Popular Surplus.
From my research, bears can be taught to leave people and places alone by aversion techniques such as these two simple things. I have read about the Division of Wildlife using rubber bullets, but don’t think the average Joe Public should use that method. The bear spray especially would be a good deterrent without causing the bears lasting injury. We tested our spray with the wind behind us, and when the wind shifted, got a tiny bit sprayed back at us, causing immediate difficulty breathing and eye irritation that lasted several hours. A full dose would stop any bear or mountain lion and send them running.
In articles the past few days, we in this valley have the dubious distinction of leading Colorado in bear euthanasia. How can Vail Valley have none while we have nine? I feel great empathy with the DOW officials who must euthanize these bears. It must be a terrible job. What I really don’t understand is why the local counties refuse to fine and prosecute offenders who do not secure trash or feed wild animals. Give them two strikes like the bears have with escalating fines, jail time and community service.
I keep reading about education. Guess what? It’s not working! Many people just don’t care and the only thing that will change their behavior is increasingly high fines. I urge readers to get involved with the Bear Aware project. I am certainly going to do that and believe there are many who agree with me. Let’s roll with this and make a difference. After all, we’re supposed to be smarter than the wild animals, but sometimes I wonder.
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