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Special to the Herald Times
RBC I Black bears have emerged from their dens and it’s time for Colorado residents to take precautions to help keep bears wild.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are cautioning residents that bear activity in towns and residential areas may be high again this year. Human-bear conflicts are a fact of life in Colorado, but simple actions can help to significantly reduce those conflicts.
The biggest issue in conflict situations is the availability of human sources of food such as garbage, pet food, livestock food, compost piles, bird feeders, chicken pens, etc. Bears have a phenomenal sense of smell and can pick up odors of food from miles away.
“Bears receive a big calorie reward if they get into something like pet food or bird seed or leftover pizza,” said Patt Dorsey, southwest regional manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Once they get a taste they quickly become habituated to human food and conflicts start. When that happens, things usually don’t go well for the bear.”
Once black bears have discovered a food source they may defend it and can become dangerous. Those types of situations can be dangerous and it is undesirable to have wild, unpredictable animals in close proximity to people.
“Some bears can be relocated, but bears deemed dangerous must be destroyed; we put down problem bears because we have to, not because we want to,” Dorsey said.
From the Front Range to the Western Slope, Colorado offers bears good natural habitat. Bears will go to the areas with the best food availability, and it’s best that they find their food in the wild. If food sources in town are limited, bears will likely spend more time in wild lands.
Colorado residents play a major role in keeping bears wild, explained Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager in Montrose.
“The public can help by being conscientious and not leaving any type of food available to bears,” DelPiccolo said. “Without the public’s diligence in reducing human sources of food, we have limited success in avoiding and reducing conflicts.”
Please, follow these tips to keep bears out of trouble and to reduce conflicts:
n Obtain a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. Check with local authorities or your trash service to determine what types can be used where you live. Put out garbage the morning of pickup.
Clean garbage cans regularly to eliminate food odors. If you don’t have secure storage, put food scraps and items that might become smelly into the freezer. Put them in the trash on pick-up day.
Don’t leave pet food or feeding bowls outside.
Attract birds naturally with flowers and water features. For those who use bird feeders, suspend them high above ground so that they’re inaccessible; clean beneath them every day.
Tightly secure compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food.
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 fall and rot on the ground.
If you keep chickens or other small livestock, build a secure enclosure and bring the animals in at night. Clean up pens regularly to reduce odors.
Never intentionally feed bears or other wildlife. It’s illegal and dangerous.