PI Editorial: Be bear aware in Garfield County
Living in the mountains of the West comes with a lot of unspoken agreements with our environment. We accept the possibility of wintertime road closures, of wildfires, debris slides, drought and more — but we should also accept the responsibility and privilege of doing whatever we can to care for the wild splendor around us.
Now, as fall approaches, that means doing as much as possible to minimize the potential for conflicts with our ursine neighbors.
As bears get ready for hibernation, hyperphagia drives them to eat as much as 20,000 calories a day to prepare for the winter ahead. And with a late frost in the higher elevations earlier this year, bears are having to forage more than usual in and around our communities.
Unfortunately that brings a lot of risk to bears. The more they become acclimated to humans and begin to see people or civilization as a food source, the more likely they become a problem bear. And, if they continue in that behavior, it can lead to Colorado Parks and Wildlife having to euthanize them, as we saw in Aspen earlier this month.
The good news is we can help reduce the potential for a bear to adopt this behavior through some simple habits. Keeping our homes, cars and trash bins locked and secure is probably the easiest and most important thing we can do. Other possible food sources such as grills and fruit trees can also be taken care of to reduce their attraction to bears. Pick up apples and other fruits as they fall to the ground. Clean your grill after every use and cover it. These simple actions can keep bears safe.
As easy as it can be to minimize interaction with bears, some people still don’t get it. Even worse, others actively choose to feed bears, perhaps out of a desire to watch them or help them fatten up for winter. The fact is these actions do nothing but harm to the bear and increase the likelihood they’ll become too acclimated to people as a food source, which once again can lead to wildlife managers having to make difficult choices.
At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to respect the wild nature of where we live. When we forget to do so, we can leave lasting damage to our environment and our wildlife.
The Post Independent editorial board members are Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.
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