DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is warning the public that bears might come close to homes and campsites as they pack on the pounds for winter.

Most of the bear incident reports in 2022 happened in August, September and October, according to CPW. This is when bears enter hyperphagia, which is an increase in feeding activity driven by biological needs.

While a bear’s natural diet consists of berries, nuts, plants and fruits, CPW said they have an increased appetite for trash, bird seed, pet food and even barbecue grills in the coming months.

A hefty diet

Bears in Colorado will spend up to 20 hours each day seeking out food to satisfy their pre-hibernation appetite of 20,000 calories, CPW said.

This equates to a fast-food order of roughly 20 chicken sandwiches, 10 large orders of french fries, 10 sodas and 10 milkshakes.

That increased diet pushes bears to overcome their fear of humans, and CPW said it expects bears to be more active and venture toward humans in the coming months.

“Research shows that bears prefer natural sources of food. But they will seek out sources of human-provided food if it’s available which can become dangerous to humans,” CPW Wildlife Biologist Brad Banulis said in a release. 

Bear’s noses are about 100 times more sensitive than humans, and they can smell food from five miles away, according to CPW. Plus, they have a great memory, so once they find a good food source they come back for more.

Be ‘bear aware’

Keep bears out of the house with CPW’s bear-proofing tips:

  • Close and lock doors and windows
  • Bearproof trash cans
  • Guard windows with bars
  • Keep garage doors closed
  • Have an “unwelcome” mat
  • Keep car doors and windows closed and locked
  • Remove tree limbs near decks and windows
  • Install round door handles
  • Play talk radio when you leave home to deter bears

CPW said storing food, dog food or bird feed in the garage can also attract bears. It also said anything with an odor in cars or garages can attract bears, including (but not limited to) scented candles, air fresheners, soaps, lotions and lip balms.

If a bear comes near your home, CPW said you can scare it away with a firm yell and loud noises like clapping hands, banging pots and pans or air horns. If a bear enters your home, make sure it can get out the same way it got in.

If the bear won’t leave, call your local CPW office or, if it presents an immediate threat, call 911.