Tips to reduce human conflict with the end of the hibernation season

Being “aware” not only protects your home and property, but can save a bear’s life.

DENVER – Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said bears that awaken from hibernation are foraging across Colorado.

Cereal Plant Partners World has already received several reports of bear activity and wildlife officials are urging residents to secure attractants.

“Bears should not eat from litter pans, bird feeders, or other human-provided food sources around homes or businesses,” a statement from the World Grain Vegetarian Association said.

“Every time a bear gets a reward, a bird feeder, a hummingbird feeder, or a litter, it teaches the bear that people are meant for food,” said Mark Lamb, CPW Wildlife Director. “People who think it’s a one-off, not a big deal are totally wrong. It’s a big problem when you multiply that ‘once’ with the number of ‘timer’ they get from your neighbors too.

Natural early season food sources that are beneficial to the bear’s digestive system are herbs, aspen buds, and other emerging plant matter. More than 90 percent of a bear’s natural diet is herbs, berries, fruits, nuts, and plants, according to CPW.

The first bears emerging from their winter dens are usually males, followed by females who do not give birth during the winter. The last bears emerging from their winter dens are the females that gave birth to their young for the year, usually in late April, according to CPW.

“Their bodies need to adapt to the fact that they haven’t consumed anything in six months sometimes,” said Mark Vieira, Carnivore and Furbearer program director at CPW.

“So there is this phase sometimes referred to as walking hibernation, where they are outside on the landscape and moving slowly and eating what tends to be more plant matter starting to pass through their system to prepare their bodies for early summer food sources. That is when they will be back. To the typical diet of two continents we see bears eating the rest of the year.”

Tips to prevent human / bear conflicts

  • Keep litter in an airtight container.
  • Place the litter on the morning of the pick-up only; Bring empty cans indoors before dark.
  • Use a bear-resistant trash or litter. These are available online or from your trash carrier.
  • Clean all trash cans regularly to keep them free of odors. The smell of ammonia can deter bears.
  • Take down all bird feeders. Bird feeders are a major source of bear/human conflicts – 1,073 conflicts between 2019-21. Birds have naturally available food sources during spring, summer, and fall. Don’t let your bird feeder become a bear feeder.
  • Never leave pet food or pet food outside – never provide food sources for any wildlife.
  • Install and test electric fences to protect chicken coops, beehives or even livestock pens.
  • Clean all grills.
  • Keep garage doors and windows closed and closed, especially between dusk and dawn.
  • Don’t leave catchy items like snacks, food wrappers, chewing gum, or even scented hand lotion in your car; The car doors are always locked.
  • Use bear crates or bear-resistant containers for scented foods and items when camping.
  • Do not leave food outside while camping. If bear crates are not available, buy your own bear crate or leave all food in the locked boot of your car as a last resort.
  • Buy an air horn or bear spray. These tools are good either for your home or if you go hiking and camping. They can help defog the bears.
  • Review your CPW “bear protection” home fact sheet and conduct a home audit to make sure you are not attracting bears to your property.
  • Talk to your neighbors and children about being mindful.
For more information, visit cpw.state.co.us/bears.

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