Bear Activity Increases In The Fall
Autumn is when black bears become more active, setting the stage for an increase in bear sightings and possibly encounters.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) reminds residents and visitors that bears are searching for food to prepare for the denning season, which begins in early to mid-November. From now until then, bears will look for food wherever they can find it and the result may lead them closer to people or homes.
While Colorado’s bears usually run, rather than confront humans, encounters do occur and people should know a few things about how to react, or better yet, how to avoid an encounter altogether by reducing the likelihood of attracting bears in the first place.
Human injuries caused by bears are rare in Colorado. In the few cases when people are injured, it usually involves food left where bears can find it, or is the result of a surprise encounter.
When bears become habituated to food left out by people, it can lead to conflicts, property damage, the possibility of injury and eventual destruction of the bear.
The DOW has the following recommendations to reduce the chances of having a close encounter with a black bear on a homeowner’s property:
Do not feed wild animals (It is against the law to feed foxes, coyotes, or bears in Colorado ) and play it safe if you have bird feeders in bear country. Feeding wildlife, including birds, can draw bears into an area. Once bears become comfortable in an area where they find food, they will continue to return. Bears have an amazing ability to recall areas where food was easily available from year to year. A “neighborhood bear” can become a real problem for homeowners and neighbors.
Tips for safely feeding birds include: restrict feeding to when bears hibernate, which is generally November through April; avoid bird foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar, or suet; bring feeders inside at night or suspend them from high crosswires; and temporarily remove feeders for two weeks if visited by a bear.
Encourage your neighbors to do the same.
Don’t place garbage outside until pick-up day. A 1994 Arizona study discovered that putting trash cans out the morning of the pickup reduced bear visits from 70 percent to less than 5 percent. Garbage or food items, including pet food, should be stored inside the garage or secure storage shed. Garage doors should not be left open except for very brief periods during the day.
Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. From a safe distance, shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. Children should understand not to run, approach or hide from a bear that wanders into the yard, but, instead, to back away and walk slowly to the house.
Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit areas of human habitation are drawn there by food. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area’s appeal to bears. Ask local businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut). Do not throw table scraps out for animals, and clean your barbecue grill regularly. If you feed pets outdoors, bring leftover food and dishes inside at night.
Bears should not be irrationally feared, nor should they be dismissed as harmless; but they should be respected as large animals with the potential to damage property and injure people if we create environments where they become dependent on human food sources.
For more information and tips on preventing conflicts with bears, visit the DOW’s “Living With Wildlife” Web page at wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/ and click on “Living with Bears in Colorado.”
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: wildlife.state.co.us.