Bears: It’s a people problem

The latest bit of late-summer feel to the weather might be a relief to humans, but it means only one thing to the state’s black bears: It’s time to get ready for winter.

That translates to finding enough calories to pack on the winter pounds, and even those of us in the Grand Valley haven’t been safe from the occasional bear climbing a fruit tree or destroying some beehives.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the past few weeks have brought numerous reports of bear conflicts all over the state.

In Aspen, a woman was injured by a bear that had been in an alley Dumpster.

In Crawford, a sow and her two cubs were rummaging through garbage in mid-July. One week later, however, the sow disappeared and the two cubs had to be captured and taken to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife rehabilitation facility.

Several reports of cabin and car break-ins have come from the northeast part of the state, and chicken pens aren’t safe in areas around Nucla, Naturita, Delta and Montrose.

You’ve heard it before, but here it goes: It’s a people problem, because bears are attracted to food made available by people.

“Overall, natural food sources that bears rely on look good,” said J Wenum, Gunnison area wildlife manager. “But bears are also entering the stage of hyperphagia when they need to eat up to 20,000 calories a day to get ready for hibernation.

“People need to be especially cautious with their garbage and food attractants.”

Wenum said bears that find easy access to food quickly become comfortable in an area and can aggressively defend it.

A bear protecting its food source can be very dangerous.

“Don’t ever let bears get comfortable in your neighborhood or around your house,” Wenum said.

People who keep chickens, even in the city, need to take precautions to protect their livestock, said Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager in Montrose.

“The best thing they can do is put up an electric fence,” DelPiccolo said. “Electric fences are an excellent deterrent and work very well.”

Other small livestock such as goats, sheep and miniature horses also should be kept inside an electric fence or full enclosure. At night those animals should be brought into a secure building.


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