Wildlife officials urge Coloradans to watch out for bears

Reports about bears to wildlife officials are up statewide and Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks the public to remove attractants and potential food sources to help reduce conflicts between bears and people.

The CPW received 3,614 bear reports from April 1 through Oct. 1, 2022, an increase from the 3,155 reports over the same time frame last year, wildlife officials said in a news release. Bear activity increases this time of year as the animals are in a state of hyperphagia — scavenging and eating up to 20 hours a day as they try to consume 20,000 calories daily in preparing for winter hibernation.

Most reports on bears involve the animals accessing, or attempting to access, human food sources, the CPW said. Eliminating sources will help reduce conflicts between bears and humans, keeping people and bears safe.

“Bears are biologically driven to pack on calories in preparation for winter and they spend increasing amounts of time looking for the most efficient way to get food,” said Matt Yamashita, a CPW wildlife manager. “Residents must realize it is their responsibility to secure their trash, remove other food attractants such as bird feeders, and protect backyard livestock with appropriate electric fencing to avoid conflicts that arise from attracting bears to homes.”

Bear activity and human conflict continue to be an issue across the state, including metro Denver, wildlife officials said. Residents are urged to contact local CPW offices when they see bears around their homes or on their property.

Measures Coloradans can take to avoid attracting bears include properly securing trash in tamper-proof cans, not putting out trash overnight, keeping vehicles locked and free of food inside the vehicles, and taking down bird feeders.

Over the past seven years, CPW has had to put down an average of 110 bears annually. As of late August, 63 have been euthanized in 2022. That’s out of an estimated bear population in the state of 17,000 to 20,000.

Last week, bears were spotted in trees in the metro area, in Jefferson and Douglas counties. In September a bear was safely removed from the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins.

“As usual, trash continues to be the No.1 attractant leading to reports this year,” Yamashita said. “The solution to controlling these artificial food sources is simple and the ability lies within the decision space of local residents and visitors. Without a change in human behaviors, there is not likely to be a significant reduction in conflicts.”

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