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RBC I Each year in Colorado dozens of bears must be relocated or euthanized because of conflicts with humans. These conflicts can often be avoided by following a few simple steps.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking people to do their part to keep bears out of trouble. Bears have awakened from their winter naps and are now searching for food. Bears are always looking for easy meals and are often drawn to towns, residences and campgrounds for a quick treat.
Once a bear identifies a location as an easy food source, they will return over and over again, which is why it’s important to not attract them to the area in the first place.
Colorado, generally, has a two-strike policy for bears. The first time a bear becomes persistent in its search for food near humans, it may be trapped, tagged and taken to a remote area to be released. If the bear gets in trouble again, it is destroyed. Sometimes, however, if a bear shows very aggressive behavior on a first encounter it can be euthanized.
“Destroying a bear is never an easy decision for a wildlife officer,” said Abbie Walls, public information officer for CPW in southeast Colorado. “But human health and safety is always our No. 1 priority. That being said, if humans take just a few minutes out of their day to do what is right, we could really cut down on the amount of conflicts we have every year.”
Bears are not typically aggressive towards people, but may become so if food is present.
Never approach a bear. If you see a bear, encourage it to leave the area by yelling, throwing rocks or spraying water at it from a safe distance. However if food continues to be present, they will likely return.
Follow these tips to help keep bears out of trouble:
■ Keep garbage in a well-secured location and only put out garbage on the morning of pickup
■ Clean garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free
■ If you don’t have secure storage, put items that might become smelly into the freezer until trash day
■ Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside
■ Bird feeders should be brought in at this time of year as birds don’t need to be fed during the summer
■ If you have bird feeders, clean up beneath them, bring them in at night and hang them high so they’re completely inaccessible to bears
■ Secure compost piles as bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food and they’ll eat anything.
■ Allow grills to burn for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors. Clean the grill after each use.
■ Clean up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck.
■ Don’t allow food odors to linger; If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to rot on the ground.
■ Always close garage doors.
■ Keep the bottom floor windows of your house closed when you’re not at home.
■ Do not keep food in your car and lock the doors.
■ Talk to your neighbors and kids about being bear aware.