The human problem makes drought and bear problems worse | PostIndependent.com
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The human problem makes drought and bear problems worse

“This summer’s drought is driving many of Colorado’s black bears from their rugged backcountry homes and into man’s backyard in search of food, state wildlife biologists said yesterday,” the Denver Post article read.

Sound familiar? Trouble is the “yesterday” mentioned was in the summer of 1989.

Having read too much material about drought, from the experts, I’m not sure how long the current drought we are in has lasted. And since I don’t have a crystal ball, there is no way of telling how long it will last.



What I do know is the animals and trees in our area are suffering more than us humans.

And once our state’s bears start foraging for food, they will eat anything. Our neighbors down the street discovered this fact when a big hungry neighborhood cinnamon bear ate their dimwitted cat.



Here’s the problem. Since bears will eat anything, all you have to do is leave your garbage out the night before pickup just once.

A hungry bear that, due to the drought, is unable to find its usual food, such as berries, will come lumbering through the neighborhood at night looking for anything to eat.

Your Kmart blue-light-special plastic trash can left out on the street overnight because you are too lazy to set it out on pickup day is easy pickings.

Once the bear tastes human food set out for him by uncaring humans, we have a “bear problem,” not a human one, although the human’s carelessness (i.e. you could care less, hence uncaring) caused the problem.

So our neighborhood in West Glenwood, only one row of houses from the bear’s wildland home to the north, is now frequented by hungry bears during the night.

The big cinnamon bear that occasionally wakes me up around 2:30 in the morning banging on the neighbor’s empty metal trash cans has been coming around for years.

My neighbors on both sides of me are bear-savvy and wouldn’t think of leaving their trash out the night before pickup. Besides they are afraid they might embarrassingly appear in their crazy neighbor’s column if they did.

For those folks whose next-door neighbors have created the “bear problem” in the first place, I have a solution. Buy them an early Christmas present: a bearproof trash can. I saw one the other day at the hardware store. They’re not cheap, but they work.

Concerned about your pets, kids or both? So am I. It’s too bad but we don’t let our girls sleep outside in their tents in the summer like we once did.

Even when we – I usually ended up outside in the tent with the kids – did camp out in our backyard, we never ever allow any food inside tents.

As a matter of fact, in all my 40 years of overnight experience in the backcountry, I have never had a single “bear problem.”

Simple rules to live by, and you avoid giving some hungry bear the death sentence.

Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week and offers this link to the Colorado Division of Wildlife for further information on bear safety: wildlife.state.co.us.Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week and offers this link to the Colorado Division of Wildlife for further information on bear safety: wildlife.state.co.us.


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