Help Save The Little Gingerbread Bear!
By: Kris Hazelton
The past few weeks a young, blondish/brown yearling bear, fondly nicknamed by CDOW Bear Aware volunteers as “the little Gingerbread Bear” has been seen in and around the downtown area getting into trash cans, dumpsters, bird feeders, grills and pet food bowls for a quick and easy meal. The clock is ticking for this little bear and his time is running out, according to Rick Spowart, Division of Wildlife Manager. He said, “Unless people change their habits, this bear is doomed to die a tragic death!” We all need to team up together to try to save the little Gingerbread bear’s life.
Spowart, members of the Estes Park Police Dept. and local Bear Aware volunteers have been extremely busy, following this young bear around, trying to give him a negative human experience and teach him that he should not be seeking food around human sources, but your help is needed to help keep this innocent bear away from homes and businesses.
Once a bear finds an easy source of food, they can become conditioned almost immediately to favor them over the more difficult to find and less calorie laden natural bear foods such as clover and grasses, ants and grubs, and wild berries.
Spowart hates the thought that he may have to put this bear down, if residents and business owners cannot follow a few simple rules, because a bear seeking human foods is certain to come in conflict sooner or later with people and that can be a very dangerous situation.
We need to change our behaviors so we can prevent the death of this beautiful animal. At this time, we all need to put away our birdfeeders, pet food bowls, and barbeque grills and stow our trash in a safe place so this young bear will go back to seeking his normal food sources. If you are cooking in your home, please don’t leave your doors open as this bear could walk right into your home, drawn in by the smell of food cooking. If we don’t do this, the little Gingerbread bear is going to have to die.
Training bears to go back to natural food sources by using tazers, cracker shells and bean bag rounds to convince a bear to move off and stay away from areas used by humans is a time consuming and trying situation but that is what is now being done to try to convince the bear to move back into the wild.
Residents need to realize it is useless to try to retrain bears only to have them return to their dangerous habits because nearby residents fail to eliminate access to bear attractants.
The most effective way to save our bears is to prevent them from obtaining any human foods or garbage in the first place. It is that simple, and that difficult. “If every individual does their part to prevent a bear from having easy access to human foods, our bear conflict problem would be virtually solved. If this bear is going to live, we need to take away these attractants!” said Spowart.
Barbecue Grills- Grills with food and grease attract bears. Keep grills clean after each use and store them in a secure location. Attend to food as it cooks outdoors, and when it is done promptly remove anything that would attract a bear including coolers, utensils, leftovers and used paper plates and cups.
Pets and Pet Food-Pet food and food bowls should not be filled and left out overnight, or left unattended. Feed pets indoors. Especially avoid feeding pets outside at dawn or dusk when bears are most active. Store pet food in a safe, secured area or bear-proof container.
Vehicles-Don’t leave food or garbage in the passenger compartment of a vehicle or the back of a pick-up truck as bears can pry open the windows and doors to access even traces of food on old paper plates or drops of soda pop in cans or used cups.
Human Garbage-Human garbage is a primary bear attractant. Garbage left out over night has a 70 percent chance of attracting a bear. Garbage put out in the morning of trash pick-up has only a two percent chance of attracting a bear. Trash should be stored during the week in a bear-proof location. Freeze particularly smelly items, and keep your trash container clean.
Birdfeeders-Avoid all types of birdfeeders from now through November, just put them away. Birds don’t need supplemental feed at this time, and birdseed is irresistible to bears. Store seed in a bear-proof container in a secure location. Hummingbird feeders are especially attractive to bears. Seeds and sweetened liquids are high in calories.
Let’s all join in to save the little Gingerbread bear! For more information or if you have a bear problem, please call Division of Wildlife Manager Rick Spowart at the police station at 586-4000, or you may contact DOW Bear
Aware Volunteers in our area:
Jim Boyd at 970-586-3341 ext. 6063
Kris & Gary Hazelton at 970-231-2635 or
Jayne Zmijewski at 970-586-9427
In case of potentially dangerous situations, please call the Estes Park Police Dispatch number at 586-4000 or 911 in an emergency, who can contact police and a CDOW Wildlife Manager in the area.