DENVER, COLORADO – In a year marked by a noticeable decline in bear-related incidents, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials continue to press for public awareness and preventative measures to ensure human and bear safety. According to CPW, bear reports from April to October 2023 fell to 3,083 from 3,637 reported in the same period last year.
Despite this reduction, wildlife managers maintain that the vigilance of Colorado residents is key to further minimizing conflicts.
This call to action by CPW comes as the agency observes the annual pre-hibernation period known as hyperphagia, during which bears voraciously feed to prepare for winter. Area 11 Wildlife Manager Mike Brown highlighted that while overall bear activity is slowing, their quest for food intensifies, leading them to human habitats in search of easy meals.
This is particularly relevant in Area 11, encompassing Pueblo, Huerfano, Las Animas, and Custer counties, which saw a significant increase in bear reports during the late summer months of 2023.
The majority of bear encounters stem from direct access to human-provided food sources such as garbage, pet food, and bird feeders. These attractants, if not properly secured, can lure bears into residential areas, increasing the risk of human-bear conflicts.
CPW has reiterated the necessity for Coloradoans to utilize bear-resistant dumpsters, lock vehicles, secure homes, and ensure that all potential bear attractants are removed or adequately contained.
The importance of this issue is underscored by the potential for bears to remain active year-round if food is consistently available, a scenario that runs contrary to their natural behavior and can lead to increased risks for both humans and bears. CPW has been proactive in its efforts to facilitate cohabitation, providing up to $1 million in grants to communities aimed at reducing human-bear conflicts.
As winter approaches and bears start to retreat for hibernation, CPW urges communities not to become complacent. They encourage continued adherence to Bear Aware principles and reaching out to local wildlife offices for guidance on making homes and neighborhoods less inviting to bears.
Bear Safety Tips for the Public
In and Around Your Home:
- Secure Waste: Store trash in a secured location and put out garbage on pickup day mornings.
- Cleanliness: Regularly clean trash cans with ammonia to neutralize food odors.
- Bear-Resistant Containers: Use bear-proof trash receptacles.
- Pet Food: Avoid leaving pet or stock feed outdoors.
- Attract Birds Safely: Replace bird feeders with natural alternatives from April 15 to Nov. 15.
- Active Deterrence: If a bear approaches your home, scare it off with loud noises.
Travel and Camping:
- Secure Vehicles and Homes: Keep car and home doors locked; close ground-floor windows.
- Food Storage: Never leave food in vehicles; secure food in bear boxes when camping.
- Clean Campsites: Maintain a clean camp area and cook away from sleeping quarters.
For Chicken Coops, Beehives, and Livestock:
- Enclosures: Ensure animals and bees are kept in secure, covered enclosures.
- Electric Fencing: When possible, use electric fences to deter bears.
- Cleanliness: Minimize odors by keeping animal areas clean.
- Scent Deterrents: Use ammonia-soaked rags as a deterrent around enclosures.
By adhering to these guidelines, Coloradans can help reduce the likelihood of bear encounters, protecting both wildlife and human communities. Learn more on the CPW Living with Bears website page.