Posts Tagged ‘bears’

FALL IS A CRITICAL TIME FOR PREVENTING BEAR CONFLICTS

September 29, 2011

Related to the previous post here is some very good information for those that are living or passing through areas where wildlife are abundant.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – For Colorado residents, September’s shorter days and cool, crisp mornings signal that it’s time to wrap up summer projects and prepare for winter weather. For black bears, the arrival of fall is more like a warning: “Time to eat as much as possible – if you want to live.”

With bears now entering their binge-eating season, Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers are urging residents and visitors to take special care to secure trash, birdseed and other easy sources of food. Bears that learn to find meals around homes and businesses often become problem bears that end up being destroyed, wildlife managers say.

“It’s just amazing how much one bear needs to eat,” said Watchable Wildlife Coordinator Trina Romero. “And that’s the only thing bears care about right now – eating nearly everything in sight.”

Black bears don’t technically hibernate – it’s more like a long sleep. However, the result is the same – Colorado bears need to pack on enough fat to survive four or five months without a meal, so during late summer and fall, bears enter a condition called “hyperphagia,” which compels them to eat for as much as 20 hours a day.

During hyperphagia, a bear may increase its intake of food from 8,000 calories to 20,000 calories per day. That’s about the number of calories found in 70 McDonald’s cheeseburgers. While Colorado bears have evolved to survive on a diet of berries, acorns and the occasional prey item, they will readily take advantage of an easy meal consisting of trash or poorly stored food. Every year, the combination of hungry bears and careless humans creates conflicts that Colorado’s wildlife managers are charged with sorting out.

The typical consequences of poor food and trash storage are a garbage-strewn lawn or a camping trip cut short. In some cases, it can even lead to a damaged kitchen. However, for bears, the consequences are often fatal. Because a wildlife manager’s priority is human safety, problem bears are tranquilized and relocated only once. The second time they get in trouble, they are destroyed. So are bears that enter homes or show aggression toward people just once.

“It’s unfortunate, but some bears are killed simply because people can’t be bothered to secure their food or trash,” said Area Wildlife Manager JT Romatzke. “Public safety has to be our first priority, but I can tell you that putting a bear down because of someone’s thoughtlessness is one of the worst parts of my job.”

The problem is compounded by a bear’s natural intelligence and excellent memory. Once a bear learns how to get an easy meal, they will apply that knowledge again and again in the following years. Sows can teach their cubs the same behavior, creating a cycle that can bring them into a conflict with people.

Although wildlife managers have the option to relocate a nuisance bear, it is an option that is becoming increasingly difficult as development continues to encroach on bear habitat. In addition, it is not uncommon for relocated bears to return in search of the easy meals that got them into trouble in the first place, or resume their bad habits in their new habitat.

Although bears do not typically attack humans, they are large, powerful animals and their determination to eat makes them dangerous when they learn human items and places are a source of food. This summer saw several high-profile incidents involving bears that entered tents in search of food and injured the occupants.

“These bears were likely rewarded in the past and learned that people and tents mean an easy meal,” said Area Wildlife Manger Perry Will. “We do have concerns about some bears, but overall, we have quite a few more concerns about people who don’t follow the rules.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is one of several government agencies that conduct ongoing public education campaigns on living with bears. The agency provides extensive information through their website, pamphlets, media stories and even magazines and books. In addition, they also dispatch volunteer “Bear Aware” teams to go door-to-door in problem areas.

“It’s frustrating because this information is so easy to find,” Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. “There really is no excuse in the majority of cases.”

According to Kevin Wright, the District Wildlife Manager in Aspen, what’s especially disheartening for wildlife managers is how quickly people who live in bear country forget about their responsibility to help prevent problem bears.

“Considering the consequences, you’d think folks would learn the first time a bear gets into their trash, or their home,” he continued. “These should be habits that people practice year round. But for too many people, we have to remind them again and again.”

Complicating matters, a single person’s negligence can lead to problems for many, explained Breckinridge Area Wildlife Manger Shannon Schwab.

“A problem bear is everyone’s problem,” said Schwab. “If even one person doesn’t care enough to take precautions and a bear gets into their trash or their house, it increases the chances that the bear will move on to the neighbor’s house, and so on. Multiply that by thousands of bears across the state that are now preparing for winter and you can see why it is so important for everyone to do their part.”

Following the tips listed below is a good start to help reduce conflicts around the home, however, many other tips regarding hiking, camping and hunting in bear country can be found in Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website at: http://dowtest.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Mammals/Pages/LivingWithBearsL1.aspx 

Keep Bears Out

– Many bears that enter homes do so through an unlocked or open window or door. Close and lock all bear-accessible windows and doors when you leave the house, and at night before you go to bed.

– If you must leave downstairs windows open, install sturdy grates or bars. Screens don’t keep out bears.

– Keep garage doors and windows closed and locked when you’re not home, or at night. Don’t leave your garage door standing open when you’re not outside. Install extra-sturdy doors if you have a freezer, refrigerator, pet food, bird seed, or other attractants in your garage.

– 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.

– Bears are great climbers – 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.

– Put on talk radio (not music) when you leave home; the human voice startles most bears.

 Get Rid of Attractants

– Bears follow their super-sensitive noses to anything that smells like food, and can follow scents from up to five miles away.

– Don’t leave trash out overnight unless it’s in a bear-proof enclosure or container. Obey all local regulations.

– We recommend feeding birds only when bears are hibernating.

Teach Bears They’re Not Welcome

– If a bear comes into your yard or close to your home, do yourself and the bear a big favor, and scare it away. A confident attitude plus loud noises like a firm yell, clapping your hands, banging on pots and pans or blowing an air horn sends most bears running.

– If a bear enters your home, open doors and windows and make sure 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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For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

More on BooBoo; DRY WEATHER DRIVES BEARS CLOSER TO PEOPLE

August 9, 2011

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – 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.

Within the past few weeks, 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 15 near Leadville. The bear had apparently 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,” explained Cory Chick, an area wildlife manager from Colorado Springs. “During the summer, bears depend on green, palatable vegetation and bugs and other critters they find under rocks and logs as their primary food sources. But those natural food sources are harder to find in dry conditions.”

Chick says 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.

When bears have to look harder to find natural forage, they gravitate toward any place they can find food — which brings them into closer proximity to people.  When they find a food source, natural or not, bears will frequent the area until it is gone.

“During dry years like this, the bears have to look harder for food, and in doing so often end up finding what people leave out – garbage, bird feeders, barbecue grills and other human food,” said Chick.

“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 added.

“Our standard recommendations in normal years are for people to secure their trash, bring in bird feeders and pet food, and remove food attractants,” said district wildlife officer Aaron Flohrs. “This summer, we are asking people to be extra vigilant.”

Flohrs says that before people begin feeling sorry for the bears and take it upon themselves to feed them, they should know that feeding a bear is the absolute worst thing a person can do for it.

“There is always potential for human injury when bears come close to people,” Flohrs said. “But the risk factors go way up when the bears are ‘rewarded’ by people feeding them — or when bears get people food in any manner.”

Bears in Colorado evolved during periods of dry spells long before humans settled the state. “They will make it through this dry spell, too,” said Chick. “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.

If weather conditions improve by mid to late August, the fall food supply of fruit and acorns should improve the situation. In the meantime, the best solution is to recognize that Colorado is bear country and to learn to live with the bruins as responsibly as we can, said Chick.

For more information on how to reduce the risk of bear conflicts in your neighborhood, please see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Mammals/LivingWithBearsL1.htm

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For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Living with Wildlife: It’s that time of year again folks!

April 28, 2010

BEARS COMING OUT OF HIBERNATION; TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO AVOID CONFLICTS

DURANGO, Colo. — Bears are emerging from their long winter naps throughout Colorado, and the Division of Wildlife is reminding residents and visitors to always be bear aware.

At this time of year, bears will be looking for new plant growth and fresh grass to eat to help them restart their digestive systems. But bears, once they are up and running, are opportunistic feeders and will exploit any available food supply, including: garbage, pet food, bird seed, and home and restaurant table scraps. Bears that become habituated to human food sources can be dangerous and often must be euthanized.

Because they are large omnivores, bears are nearly always on a search for food. Wild foods are essential for bears — berries, insects, acorns forbs, plants and carrion. But when people fail to store garbage, pet food or bird feeders properly, bears will find those sources and cause conflicts in residential and business areas.

Many communities in bear country have ordinances regarding trash storage that apply to wildlife, so abide by those rules.

If you live in bear country, these simple precautions can reduce or eliminate your chances of creating conflicts with bears:
–          Keep garbage in a secure building or a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster.
–          If you don’t have a place to store garbage, ask the trash company for a bear-resistant container or order one. Many suppliers advertise containers on the Internet.
–          Place smelly food scraps in the freezer until garbage day.
–          Rinse out all cans, bottles and jars so that they are free of food and odors before putting them out for recycling or pick-up.
–          Put out garbage cans only on the morning of pick-up. Do not put out garbage the night before.
–          Wash garbage cans regularly with ammonia to eliminate food odors.
–          Don’t leave pet food or pet dishes outside.
–          Bird feeders are a major cause of wildlife conflicts. Besides bears, feeders may also attract small mammals, deer and mountain lions. Birds do not need to be fed during the summer. As an alternative to feeders, attract birds naturally by hanging flower baskets, putting out a bird bath or planting a variety of flowers. Use bird feeders only from November until the end of March when bears are hibernating.
–          If bears get into bird feeders, take the feeders down immediately and don’t put them back up.
–          Pick ripe fruit from trees and off the ground.
–          Clean outdoor grills after each use; the smell of grease can attract bears.
–          Never intentionally feed bears.
–          Close and lock lower floor windows and doors of your house.
–          Clean up thoroughly after outdoor parties.
–          Don’t leave food in your car, lock car doors. Bears are smart and many have learned to open car doors.
–          When camping, store food and garbage inside a locked vehicle. Keep the campsite clean. Don’t eat in the tent. In the backcountry, hang your food at least 10 feet high and 10 feet away from anything a bear can climb.
–          Bears are not naturally aggressive toward people and prefer to avoid contact. If you see a bear in your neighborhood make it feel unwelcome: yell at it, throw sticks and rocks at it. But never approach a bear.

Remember this: “a fed bear is a dead bear.” Making food available to bears teaches them to associate humans with food — and that’s the start of conflict.

To report bear problems, contact your local Colorado Division of Wildlife office, or local law enforcement.

To learn more about living with bears, go to the DOW’s web site: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Be “Bear Aware”

May 24, 2009

While this will apply mostly to Colorado the information is both timely and appropriate all across America, if not the world. Keeping yourself, family, and loved ones safe starts with you, it is your responsibility, not the governments. They all act “after the fact,” and you “the people” voted in measures that have resulted in little or no fear of humans by dangerous wildlife species.

BE ‘BEAR AWARE’ WHEN CAMPING


WESTCLIFFE, Colo. – Memorial Day Weekend marks the traditional start to the camping season, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife reminds campers to be “bear aware” when enjoying the outdoors.  Campers should keep their campsites clean to avoid attracting bears, or other wildlife.

Bears go into campgrounds because food is often available around tents, camp trailers, and dumpsters.  The potential for conflicts increases when food brings bears and humans come into close contact.

“Bears are built to eat and their sense of smell is incredible,” explained Justin Krall, a district wildlife manager in the Westcliffe area. “They can smell food from miles away and they’ll travel to find it.”

In a natural setting, bears would just as soon avoid people, but bears that learn to associate humans with food begin to lose their natural fear of people.  “Food Conditioned” bears are the most dangerous kind.  They usually end up being euthanized.

“It is unfortunate, but bears get into trouble because humans leave food around,” Krall said.

“Bears are not naturally aggressive toward humans, they are actually very shy creatures,” Krall said. “However, bears are on a mission to find food. Campers need to take precautions to avoid problems for you and your family, but also for the campers who use the site after you.  Do not leave food or garbage behind.  Always pack out your trash.”

Here are a few tips for campers in bear country:
*   Keep a clean site and clean up thoroughly after every meal;
*   After grilling, allow the fire to continue until food scraps and grease are burned completely off the grill.
*   Do not eat in your tent or keep food in your tent;
*   Do not leave pet food outside for a long period of time.  Any uneaten pet food should also be stored in a secure container.
*   Store unused food and garbage in secure containers out of the reach of bears and away from your sleeping area;
*   If you see a bear in a campground, report it to the local DOW office as soon as possible.
*   If you come in close contact with a bear, talk to it firmly and make yourself look as large as possible. Back away slowly, but do not run.
*   Teach children and others who might be unfamiliar with bears about bear safety.

For additional information on how the public can do their part to keep Colorado’s bears wild please visit the Division of Wildlife’s Living With Wildlife web page at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/ and click on the “Living with Bears in Colorado” link.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Boo boo strikes again!

April 24, 2009

Seems like an ongoing theme around here. Figure it out, wild animals, well, are wild. Go figure…

This is the time of year when wildlife are getting active. Most are birthing, and can be even more dangerous than they are most of the time. That people just drove by a pregnant woman clearly in distress really bothers me.

Ashley Swendsen, 26 years old and nearly six months pregnant, was chased into traffic by a bear as she went for a walk during her lunch hour in Colorado Springs Thursday.

A car brushed her to the ground and the driver slowed as Swendsen screamed that she was being chased by a bear.

But the driver, an older woman, sped off and the three cars behind it passed by as well, said Swendsen, reached by cell phone at the hospital.

Her physical injuries are believed to be minor, but the nervousness was still evident in her voice as she waited to see a doctor at about 4 p.m.

As the bear first appeared about 2 feet away from her on a hiking trail between the Vincent Drive Bridge and Interstate 25, she said “I thought … ‘what am I going to do?'”

She walked quickly for a few seconds before her fear overcame her and she began to run. The 4-foot-tall brown bear galloped behind her for about 20 seconds until she reached the roadway at 1005 Garlock Way.

“I started screaming for help, but nobody could hear me,” she said.

Wildlife officers soon located and killed the female bear. No cubs were found nearby. Swendsen said she was going to see its body after she was checked out at the hospital.Colorado Springs police are still looking for the hit-and-run driver, a woman likely to be in her 70s driving a black four-door Mitsubishi sedan.

SOURCE

Close Encounters of the cuddly kind…

October 10, 2008

It is once again that time of the year. Hat tip to the DOW for some solid information about coexisting with bears.

BEAR ACTIVITY INCREASES IN THE FALL

Autumn is when black bears become more active, setting the stage for an increase in bear sightings and possibly encounters.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) reminds residents and visitors that bears are searching for food to prepare for the denning season, which begins in early to mid-November. From now until then, bears will look for food wherever they can find it and the result may lead them closer to people or homes.

While Colorado’s bears usually run, rather than confront humans, encounters do occur and people should know a few things about how to react, or better yet, how to avoid an encounter altogether by reducing the likelihood of attracting bears in the first place.

Human injuries caused by bears are rare in Colorado.  In the few cases when people are injured, it usually involves food left where bears can find it, or is the result of a surprise encounter.

When bears become habituated to food left out by people, it can lead to conflicts, property damage, the possibility of injury and eventual destruction of the bear.

The DOW has the following recommendations to reduce the chances of having a close encounter with a black bear on a homeowner’s property:

Do not feed wild animals (It is against the law to feed foxes, coyotes, or bears in Colorado ) and play it safe if you have bird feeders in bear country.  Feeding wildlife, including birds, can draw bears into an area. Once bears become comfortable in an area where they find food, they will continue to return. Bears have an amazing ability to recall areas where food was easily available from year to year.  A “neighborhood bear” can become a real problem for homeowners and neighbors.

Tips for safely feeding birds include: restrict feeding to when bears hibernate, which is generally November through April; avoid bird foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar, or suet; bring feeders inside at night or suspend them from high crosswires; and temporarily remove feeders for two weeks if visited by a bear.  Encourage your neighbors to do the same.

Don’t place garbage outside until pick-up day. A 1994 Arizona study discovered that putting trash cans out the morning of the pickup reduced bear visits from 70 percent to less than 5 percent.  Garbage or food items, including pet food, should be stored inside the garage or secure storage shed.  Garage doors should not be left open except for very brief periods during the day.

Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. From a safe distance, shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog.  Children should understand not to run, approach or hide from a bear that wanders into the yard, but, instead, to back away and walk slowly to the house.

Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit areas of human habitation are drawn there by food. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area’s appeal to bears. Ask local businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut).  Do not throw table scraps out for animals, and clean your barbecue grill regularly. If you feed pets outdoors, bring leftover food and dishes inside at night.

Bears should not be irrationally feared, nor should they be dismissed as harmless; but they should be respected as large animals with the potential to damage property and injure people if we create environments where they become dependent on human food sources.

For more information and tips on preventing conflicts with bears, visit the DOW’s “Living With Wildlife” Web page at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/ and click on “Living with Bears in Colorado.”

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Game Thieves in Colorado

August 1, 2008

$1,000 REWARD IN TRINIDAD BEAR SHOOTING

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has offered a $1,000 reward for information about a recent bear shooting in Trinidad.  DOW officers want information about a 425-pound bear found dead in a yard between Colorado and Kansas Avenues Monday night.

Anyone with knowledge of the shooting should call the “Operation Game Thief” hot line at 1-877-265-6648 or local DOW officer Bob Holder at (719) 680-1410.  According to Holder, a resident said a large bear was sleeping in their yard.  When Holder arrived on the scene, he discovered the bear had been shot.

“There are some circumstances when it is legal to shoot a bear, it is not legal to kill a bear just because it wanders through your property or gets into your trash,” said Holder.

DOW officers say help from the public is often the only way that poachers are apprehended.  One of the best ways to report violations is to call the “Operation Game Thief” hot line at 1-877-COLO-OGT (1-877-265-6648).  Or, they can e-mail Operation Game Thief at game.thief@state.co.us.  Citizens can remain completely anonymous, and are elligible for cash rewards for their information leads to issuing a citation.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Pathetic, simply pathetic…


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