How to bear-proof houses, vehicles

DENVER — The end of summer triggers an instinctual need in bears to pack on the pounds to prepare for the months of hibernation ahead.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds everyone that this quest for calories, called hyperphagia, will send bears on an urgent search for food making it especially important to bear-proof your homes and cars when in bear country.

“Hungry bears will be actively seeking out the types of meals found in your trash can and around your home,” wildlife experts said.

And as we’ve seen recently, bears aren’t afraid to go inside vehicles on their quest for food.

Properly bear-proofing your home may mean taking several of the recommended steps below, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Keep bears out

  • Close and lock all bear-accessible windows and doors when you leave the house, and at night before you go to bed.
  • Install sturdy grates or bars on windows if you must leave them open.
  • Keep car doors and windows closed and locked if you park outside. Make sure there’s nothing with an odor in your vehicle, including candy, gum, air fresheners, trash, lotions and lip balms.
  • Close and lock garage doors and windows at night and when you’re not home; garage doors should be down if you are home but not outside.
  • Install extra-sturdy doors if you have a freezer, refrigerator, pet food, bird seed, or other attractants stored in your garage.
  • Remove any tree limbs that might provide access to upper level decks and windows.
  • Replace exterior lever-style door handles with good quality round door knobs that bears can’t pull or push open.

Get rid of anything that attracts bears

  • Don’t leave trash out overnight unless it’s in a bear-proof enclosure or container. Be sure to research all local ordinances and regulations if vacationing.
  • Don’t store food of any kind in an unlocked garage, flimsy shed or on or under your deck.
  • Don’t leave anything with an odor outside, near open windows or in your vehicle, even if you’re home. That includes scented candles, air fresheners, lip balms and lotions.
  • Only feed birds when bears are hibernating. If you want to feed birds when bears are active, bring in seed or liquid feeders at night or when you leave home.

Teach bears they’re not welcome

  • If a bear comes close to your home, scare it away. Loud noises like a firm yell, clapping your hands, banging on pots and pans or blowing an air horn sends most bears running.
  • Utilize electric fencing, unwelcome mats and scent deterrents like ammonia to teach bears that your property is not bear-friendly.
  • If a bear enters your home, open doors and windows and ensure it can leave the same way it got in. Don’t approach the bear or block escape routes.
  • Never approach a bear. If a bear won’t leave, call your local CPW office. If a bear presents an immediate threat to human safety, call 911.
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