Be safe in bear country

RBC | When you head out into Colorado’s great outdoors, you’re heading into country that’s long been home to black bears. With so many people spending time in bear country, human-bear conflicts are on the rise.
So before you go, learn more about how to enjoy the outdoors without creating problems for yourself or these intelligent and resourceful animals.

Camping with bears

  • Stash Your Trash. Use bear-proof containers when available. If they’re full, double bag trash and lock it in your trunk or RV. Never leave trash outside.
  • Store Attractants Safely. Store food, beverages and toiletries in air tight containers and lock in your trunk. Many bears have discovered that coolers, bags and boxes are full of food; never leave them in your tent or anywhere a bear could see, smell or reach.
  • Keep a Clean Camp. Bears are attracted to odors of all kinds and will investigate anything interesting in hopes of finding food.
  • Keep a Clean Tent. Don’t bring anything with an odor into your tent—that includes all foods, beverages, scented toiletries, gum, toothpaste, sunscreen,candles, and insect repellant. Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked in; store them with your food.
  • Lock RVs and Vehicles. Close windows and lock your vehicle and RV when you leave your camp site and at night before you go to sleep.

Hitting the trail

Bears will usually smell or hear you and leave the area long before you see them. Understanding bears’ natural behavior can help you avoid surprising a bear.
Tracks, bear scat, and shredded logs are all signs you’re in bear country.

Be alert at all times and leave your headphones at home. Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk, when the wind is in your face, visibility is limited or you’re walking by a noisy stream. A firm clap or quick shout warns bears that humans are in the area.

  • In late summer and fall, bears need to forage up to 20 hours a day, so avoid trails that go through berry patches, oak brush and other natural food sources.
  • Keep dogs leashed; exploring canines can surprise a bear. Your dog could be injured or come running back to you with an irritated bear on its heels.
  • Keep children between adults and teach them what to do if they see a bear. Don’t let them run ahead or fall behind.
  • Double bag food, and never leave any trash or leftovers behind. Finding treats teaches bears to associate trails with food.
  • Never approach bears or offer food. If you’re lucky enough to see a bear, watch from a safe distance and enjoy this very special experience. If your presence causes the bear to look up or change its behavior in any way, you’re too close.