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Colorado Parks and Wildlife urging Lyons businesses to bear-proof their trash bins

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DENVER -- Last week, after a bear tried to steal a dumpster from a pot shop in Lyons, there were a lot of questions about the fate of the animal.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, they are aware of two to three bears frequently visiting dumpsters behind the shops on Main Street. In fact, spokesman Jason Clay says they have had 22 bear reports in Lyons since April. Fourteen of those involved trash.

However, Clay says CPW is not currently considering relocating or putting down any of the bears in the area.

“They’re going to roam around Lyons because it’s in the mountains and that’s where bears are going to be, but we can shorten their stay in town,” Clay said.

While bears and humans share the area, CPW doesn’t want bears there to become dependent on people's trash as a food source.

“If we teach them don’t come into town, haze them out of town, then they can go back and forage on their natural food, which is choke cherries, acorns, natural sources that we want them to get. Not our trash,” Clay said.

Wildlife officers have been working with local businesses and residents to get everyone switched over to bear-proof trash bins. The metal containers have bars and locking mechanisms that bears can’t open.

“When a bear gets rewarded with food -- bears are very smart -- they’ll remember it and they’ll come back to that location,” Clay said.

He says the opposite can also be true. If a bear is not rewarded with food, it may begin to remember that food is not available in that area and may stop visiting.

CPW has also helped neighbors get bear hazing tools, like pepper spray, air horns and rubber bullets, to scare the bears back into their natural habitats.

In the event the bears keep coming back, CPW says businesses are allowed to install "bear unwelcome mats."

“You take like a plywood and you drill nails or screws into it,” Clay said. “Then it prevents that bear from walking up to that dumpster to walk away with it like we saw in that one video… when the bear steps on it, it’s going to react to it but it’s not going to damage its paw.”

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