Most Viewed Stories
Bears and people should coexist - but not in Colorado neighborhoods
Visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife online to see a complete list of tips for bearproofing your home, scaring bears away from your home and safely camping in bear country: wildlife.state.co.us (search "bears")
* Put your trash out the morning of pick up.
* Keep the doors and windows of your home and vehicle closed and locked.
* Do not keep fragrant items in your car or near the entry of your home.
* Keep your garage door closed.
* Clean your barbecue grill after each use.
* Limit bird feeders to winter months.
* If a bear comes close to your home, try to scare it by making loud noises - yelling, clapping your hands, banging pots, blowing a whistle.
* Encourage your neighbors to do the same.
A bear that was tranquilized and moved from a Denver suburb on Monday afternoon was far from the Rocky Mountains. The 300-pound male was about a mile from Interstate 25, near Water World in Westminster.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers believe they know why he was there. Garbage. Or maybe seeds in a bird feeder. And neighbors’ poor judgment.
Bears are smart and it doesn’t take long for them to figure out that knocking over trash cans and raiding bird feeders is easier and fills their stomach faster than foraging for berries or acorns.
But once they get used to relying on humans for food, they become a nuisance. And nuisance bears too easily become dead bears, said Randy Hampton, statewide public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Hampton and other wildlife officials are roaming the state, trying to teach residents about the threat urbanization poses to bears. They want a wildlife-loving public to understand the animals’ fate often is up to them.
There are between 16,000 and 18,000 black bears in Colorado, and wildlife officials believe bear sightings and bear problems could increase this year because of the mild winter. Bears’ natural food sources will be abundant early and then taper. Foraging will take more effort than usual, and an easy meal – a bowl of dog food, last night's leftovers – may be too tempting.
The five wildlife officers who patrol El Paso and Teller counties – their coverage area stretches east to Kansas – respond to about 1,000 calls about bears every year.
They’ll try scare tactics to get a bear to move back to the forest. “We can haze them,” said Hampton.
If hazing fails, officers will tranquilize a bear and cart it far into the mountains for release in what they hope is decent habitat, says Cory Chick, the area wildlife manager in Colorado Springs.
“We don’t really even like to do that,” Chick said. Officers must guess how much tranquilizer to use and hope it will last until the bear is safely released. They don’t know how each bear will react to the drug. And they must hope a relocated bear won’t get run out of its new habitat by local bears or try to brave crowded roadways to return to the delicacies it has found in suburban trash cans.
Nuisance bears are given two chances to return to their wild ways, but repeat offenders are killed to protect people’s safety. Bears will break through doors and windows and claw their way into cars to get food, Chick said.
“We don’t enjoy shooting bears. Not one bit,” said Chick.
But he'd rather kill a bear than learn it later attacked a person or beloved pet.
Parks and Wildlife officers need Colorado residents and visitors to help them out. So do the bears.