Bear facts of spring: food, conflict with humans
With Colorado’s bears rousing from their winter slumber, the Colorado Division of Wildlife wants to reawaken residents to the fact that humans’ food can lead to conflicts with the animals.
Those conflicts can be dangerous to people, but often can be deadly for bears, which sometimes have to be destroyed.
Bears are coming out of hibernation and soon become hungry feeders that will take advantage of human food sources as readily as wild ones when the opportunity presents itself, the Colorado Division of Wildlife says.
The agency asks residents of bear country to properly manage trash, bird seed, pet food and other food sources to reduce the animals’ interest in visiting residential areas.
Bears that pose a danger to humans often must be destroyed. The Division of Wildlife also destroys bears that have been relocated but continue to have conflicts with humans. These bears simply are trying to survive, Aspen District Wildlife Manager Kevin Wright said in a news release. But they can become problem bears when tempted by human food sources.
He said he recently saw a lot of trash bins without locks in residential areas in the Aspen area, along with other poor practices that can tempt bears.
“We really want people to take care of their trash and other attractants so we don’t have to deal with problems later,” he said.
Living responsibly in bear country is a continuing educational challenge for the Division of Wildlife, spokesman Randy Hampton said.
But he added, “The message we’ve gotten from the public, too, is the majority of people out there are appreciative of the fact that there are bears, that there are wildlife, and they understand people need to take on that responsibility.”
Conflicts with bears can vary significantly in number from year to year, and can hinge on how much growth of berries, acorns and other wild food sources occurs in a given season. Hampton said what level of production will occur this year is hard to say, as it all depends on the weather.
The agency also recommends that residents who see bears near their homes make them feel unwelcome by yelling, making noises and throwing things. Hampton said the DOW isn’t asking people to jeopardize their safety, and they shouldn’t use such measures if the bear is too close.
“But we do find if you make some noise or throw things at a bear that’s hanging out in the neighborhood, a lot of times they don’t like the noise, they don’t like the activity that much, and they’ll move on,” he said.