Bears are back – don’t invite them over |

Bears are back – don’t invite them over

The balmy weather of spring is upon us. Trees are bursting into leaf and flowers are beginning to bloom in home gardens. And bears are leaving their winter dens.While most of us think late summer and early fall are the time to watch out for bears in our neighborhoods, the Colorado Division of Wildlife warns that bears could be a problem now.”This time of year the bears start coming out; some are out now,” said Colorado Division of Wildlife Glenwood Springs District Manager Sonia Marzec. She’s heard reports of bear sightings in Marble, in Glenwood Springs along the railroad tracks, and in Aspen and the Eagle/Vail area.”The first couple of weeks they’re not eating or drinking a lot. They’re in walking hibernation,” she explained.But they may have a hard time finding their natural food as the drought continues this spring. Last year an early frost and dry spring caused failure of the acorn crop, as well as chokecherry bushes and other fruit bears rely on.Those food sources may be in short supply this spring as well. Bears, like many wild animals, are opportunists. They’ll search out food wherever they can find it. Outdoor barbecues, trash containers and bird feeders attract bears by their odors. And once a bear finds the pickings easy, they return year after year to the same place. “In Glenwood Springs there is a big concern with trash containers,” Marzec said Areas of special concern, Marzec said, include Midland Avenue and the area behind Valley View Hospital, places where bears come into the city from the wooded slopes of the valley.Once bears learn to associate humans with food they can become a nuisance. Colorado black bears get an ear tag for the first serious offense of nuisance behavior. Bears are killed for a second serious offense. DOW has a few recommendations that will help keep bears out of the back yard and town alleys:-Keep trash in bear-proof containers or enclosed spaces such as a garage.-Put trash out the morning of the collection instead of the night before.-Suspend bird feeders from cables, out of bears’ reach.-Do not place meat or sweet food scraps in compost piles.-Do not leave pet food or dishes outdoors at night.-Clean up and store outdoor barbecue grills after use. Sticky barbecue sauce and grease can attract bears.-Never intentionally feed bears to attract them to your yard for viewing. It’s illegal to feed bears in Colorado. In addition to feeding being bad for the bear, you can be ticketed and fined.A new regulation approved by the Wildlife Commission allows state wildlife officers to fine people if they leave out trash or anything else that attracts bears. Violators face a $68 fine for each citation.The regulation was adopted as an emergency measure last September to give wildlife officers a tool to use against people who continually leave food and trash around their houses. The regulation goes into effect May 1. “In those cases when a person has been warned repeatedly … it does give our guys a new tool that will hopefully convince them to change their behavior,” Division of Wildlife spokesman Todd Malmsbury said.

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