April Is Estes Cares About Bears Month
The community-led Bear Education Task Force reminds Estes Valley residents and businesses that with the arrival of spring, bears are again active and careful management of trash and other potential attractants is critical. At the April 8 Town Board meeting, Mayor Pinkham and the Town Trustees will proclaim April Estes Cares About Bears month. Residents and businesses can take a few simple steps to create a better environment for bears and other wildlife, to preserve watchable wildlife in the Estes Valley, and to promote public safety.
• If a bear is hanging around your home, business or other populated area, scare it away by yelling, making a racket with pots and pans, or using an air horn. If we are too passive or accommodating, we put their lives at risk. So, make its memory of the encounter a bad one.
• Residential and commercial garbage can be an easy meal for bears. Keep it locked up, store it in a bear- resistant container, increase the pick-up schedule — whatever it takes to make it less accessible to bears. Check with your trash hauler for options.
• Keep your car free of food, trash or other attractants, or you may end up paying a hefty price to repair windows, doors and interiors. This goes for your home and business, too. Close and lock ground-level windows and doors. Bears can quickly cause thousands of dollars in damage that your insurance company may not cover.
• Flowers are a great replacement for hummingbird feeders. Take down bird feeders, especially if you live in an area where bears are active. This includes the edges of town and anywhere they commonly travel to reach other food sources.
• Don’t forget to burn off and clean your barbeque grill after every use.
• Keep pet food inside.
The Bear Education Task Force offers a variety of programs and materials for Estes Valley businesses, residents and guests, children and adults. The Task Force has developed partnerships with community organizations and businesses, and prepared educational programs, a five-minute educational video, printed and electronic materials, hands-on children’s programs, and an interactive pledge and recognition program for bear— responsible businesses. Resources are available at www.estes.org/wildlife. Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs), business and service organizations, social clubs, teachers and businesses are encouraged to contact the task force to request a program or materials to help valley residents and visitors understand how simple it can be to avoid conflict with bears and other wildlife. Outreach priorities for 2014 include educating vacation rental owners and guests on how to responsibly handle trash to avoid conflicts with bears, as well as extending last year’s restaurant pledge, signed by approximately 90 local restaurants, to the area lodging businesses.
In 2013, the Town installed approximately 30 bear-resistant public trash/recycling containers downtown, and 24 of these were in partnership with the League of Women Voters and Community Recycling Committee. The Town has also adjusted the trash collection schedule to further reduce temptation to bears. To promote public safety, police officers are checking for compliance with trash ordinances. Inside town limits, or in the unincorporated valley, ignoring the laws can result in fines from law enforcement and wildlife officials.
The Bear Education Task Force was formed in the fall of 2012 after community conversations identified education as one of the critical pathways for improving bear and human interactions in the Estes Valley. Core participants represent the community at large, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bears Are Us, Estes Valley Library, Waste Management, Association for Responsible Development, League of Women Voters, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park Police Department, Town of Estes Park staff and its Board of Trustees. For more information, visit www.estes.org/wildlife. For bear questions or concerns, please contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227. For bear emergencies, call 9-1-1.