DENVER (KDVR) — Warmer temperatures are on the horizon, which means it is time to start keeping an eye on your trash can.
Bears are waking up from hibernation.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said that males, or boars, are the first to leave their winter dens. After that, females, or sows, that didn’t give birth over the winter will leave hibernation. The last bears to leave their winter homes are sows who gave birth to this year’s cubs. Those bears will typically emerge in late April, according to CPW.
Bear activity in 2022
The biggest cause of conflict with bears last year was bears trying to gain access to trash, as well as birdfeeders, livestock, bears accessing open garages, and other human-originated items that are left unsecured.
“These conflicts could all easily be reduced if the public takes some simple steps around their homes and properties to prevent bears from accessing them,” CPW explained.
CPW said that last year, 94 bears were euthanized and 59 were relocated.
How to bearproof your home
Bear-proofing your home is not only important to your safety but also important for protecting bears.
“Simple changes in human behavior can reap big benefits. If people keep their trash and other potential food items, like birdseed and dog food, off-limits to bears, not only will they protect their homes and property from bear damage, but they’ll also protect bears,” National Wildlife Research Center wildlife biologist Dr. Stewart Breck said.
- Keep garbage in a well-secured location.
- Only put out garbage on the morning of pickup.
- Clean garbage cans regularly to keep them free of food odors: ammonia is effective.
- Use a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster.
- Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside.
- Bird feeders are a major source of bear/human conflicts. Attract birds naturally with flowers and water baths
- Do not hang bird feeders from April 15 to Nov. 15.
- Do not attract other wildlife by feeding them, such as deer, turkeys or small mammals.
- Don’t allow bears to become comfortable around your house. If you see one, yell at it, throw things at it, make noise to scare it off.
- Secure compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food.
- Clean the grill after each use.
- Clean up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck.
- If you have fruit trees, don’t allow the fruit to rot on the ground.
- If you keep small livestock, keep animals in a fully covered enclosure. Construct electric fencing if possible.
- Don’t store livestock food outside, keep enclosures clean to minimize odors, and hang rags soaked in ammonia and/or Pine-Sol around the enclosure.
- If you have beehives, install electric fencing where allowed.
- Talk to your neighbors and kids about being bear-aware.
- Keep garage doors closed.
How to bearproof your vehicles and campsites
Here are some tips from CPW to keep your vehicles and campsites secure from bears:
- Lock your doors when you’re away from home and at night.
- Keep the bottom floor windows of your house closed when you’re not at home.
- Do not keep food in your vehicle; roll up windows and lock the doors of your vehicles.
- When car-camping, secure all food and coolers in a locked vehicle.
- Keep a clean camp, whether you’re in a campground or in the backcountry.
- When camping in the backcountry, hang food 100 feet or more from the campsite; don’t bring any food into your tent.
- Cook food well away from your tent; wash dishes thoroughly.
CPW wildlife managers estimate that Colorado has between 17,000 – 20,000 bears and the population is stable and growing. The black bear is the only species of bear in the state, and they can be brown, blond, cinnamon and black in color.