Colorado DPW Warns of Bear Encounters

Colorado Division of Wildlife, Bear Hunting Magazine
07/25/2011

The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife is asking residents and vacationers in southern Colorado to take extra care to avoid attracting hungry bears to homes, cabins, campgrounds and picnic areas. In the past month wildlife officers have responded to a higher than normal level of calls about bears entering homes, garages, sheds, tents, chicken coops and damaging beehives.

Wildlife officials killed a bear that injured a teenage camper in his tent July 15th near Leadville. The bear had ransacked a cooler outside a tent in an adjacent area of the camp prior to the incident.

"This has been a below average year for natural food for bears because of the dry weather," explained Cory Chick, a wildlife manager from Colorado Springs. Natural food sources are out there, but some bears have slowed in searching for them because humans are making it too easy for bears to find unnatural food around homes.

With prime feeding time for bears just ahead, wildlife managers are concerned that the number of bear encounters could increase and are advising people to remove food attractants from their homes and campsites to avoid confrontations with bears.

"We are always going to have nuisance bears, but when bears are rewarded for foraging around houses and outbuildings, it increases the chances a nuisance bear becomes a dangerous bear," Chick stated. Bears in Colorado evolved during periods of dry spells long before humans settled the state. "They will make it through this dry spell, too," he added. "Right now we just want people to take the proper precautions to avoid anyone getting injured and keep bears out of trouble."

The Division of Parks and Wildlife uses a decision tree to rate problem bears. Wildlife managers evaluate each conflict as to degree of urgency based on three categories. The first and lowest is a "nuisance" bear, second is a "depredating" bear, and the third level is a "dangerous" bear. Most bear reports are classified at the nuisance level. This category includes bears that may pose a threat to property or may have already damaged property, but there is no immediate threat to humans. Action for bears at this level include a variety of deterrent methods, trying to educate the people on how to coexist with bears, and as a last resort trap and relocate the problem bear. On the other hand, depredating and dangerous bears are dealt with in stronger methods and as soon as possible.



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