Bear sightings recede as winter approaches, but some still linger in Garfield County

Bear rummages through an open dumpster in June 2021.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Bears are still out and about, looking for their last snack before their long nap. Be sure to not give them a reason to stay awake or a place to shack up for the season.

One early morning Nov. 29, Oasis Creek resident Michael McCallum heard a thud outside. He discovered a bear had just pulled his grill out onto his back porch.

“It was a bear raid,” McCallum said. “He came in and destroyed my grill. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one this late in the year. I’m amazed that they’re still out and about.”

The bear seemed to be looking for some leftover scraps in the grill. Mccallum said he usually cleans the it out pretty well, but must have left some residue the bear could smell.

“Occasionally, you’re going to have the late stragglers,” Colorado Park and Wildlife Public Information Officer Rachel Gonzales said. “We get bears that linger out of the den in December in that area, but it is not normal. This year they are seeing more bears out later due to poor natural food conditions earlier this year, and in poor body condition and still trying to pack on calories from the fall.”

She said that the snowfall this weekend will hopefully remind them it’s time to hibernate, but residents should be following the same precautions as normal to avoid delaying that move.

“Why it’s important to ensure your home doesn’t have food attractants keeping them from doing what’s natural and going into hibernation,” Gonzales said. “If food is constantly present, there is no need for a bear to hibernate. Food or lack of food is really the driving factor to a bear hibernating, not so much the snow.”

Remember to lock up trash bins, clean grills and avoid leaving anything out that smells worthy of avoiding their naptime.

The aftermath of a grill ripped from its outdoor foundation by a visiting bear in Oasis Creek.
Courtesy/Michael McCallum

Bears looking to shack up with humans is something she added that is not often mentioned. Be sure to block off open spaces around the house that look like they could make a cozy den, like open space under a raised deck. 

“Look around your home and make sure to not provide a space for them to den,” she said. “We definitely want them hibernating in their natural habitat.”

She added bears hibernating out in nature also helps them to have instant food in their natural habitat when they wake up.  

After Mccallum saw the damage in the back of his home, he ran to the front to find the bear standing at the window by his front door peeking into the house. 

He banged on the door loudly, scaring the hungry critter away and hasn’t seen it since. 

McCallum has lived in his house for more than 25 years and has multiple fruit trees in his yard, so bear sightings are common for him. 

Bears love being in his yard the second the cherry tree starts producing fruit until the end of the season when the crab apple trees are shedding leftover apples.

“They’re around once the fruit starts coming,” he said.

The bears that frequent his yard are usually docile and scare easily. McCallum said he won’t let his dogs out if he knows they are out there, but occasionally there will be one in the tree that will get scared off pretty quickly when his dogs run out to bark at them. 

Bear in Oasis Creek, courtesy of Michael McCallum

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