by Joe Lewandowski, Colorado Parks & Wildlife

During July, it was reported that bears have entered four houses in the Crestone/Baca Grande area and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is warning residents to take precautions to keep the animals away from their homes.

“Most of these incidences could have been prevented by people with simple solutions like closing and locking windows and doors at night, and removing any attractants like trash and bird feeders,” said Clayton Bondurant, District Wildlife Manager for CPW in the Saguache area.

A trap has been set and CPW is trying to capture the bear.

If you see bears in your neighborhood the first thing to do is make it feel uncomfortable, Bondurant said. Yell at it, throw things at it and make loud noises; bears should not be allowed to feel comfortable in residential areas. CPW urges residents to place their trash in bear-resistant containers or inside secure structures and only put it out on the morning of pick-up. Clean cans regularly with bleach or ammonia to reduce odors. Items such as food scraps that can produce odors should be placed in the freezer until pick-up day.

“Bears have an incredible sense of smell and can smell food from miles away, so keep odors down,” Bondurant said. “And if a bear finds a food source it will keep coming back.”

Bird feeders are a major source of conflict, so take them down during the summer. You can attract birds naturally with birdbaths and flowers. It’s OK to put bird feeders back out from Dec. 1-April 1.

Residents are urged to report any activity of bears as soon as possible to CPW’s Monte Vista office at 719-587-6900. By learning of any problems early, wildlife managers have more options of how to deal with a bear. But many times no reports are made until the bear is breaking into buildings and acting aggressively. When that occurs, CPW is required to euthanize the bear to protect human health and safety.

“Bears are intelligent and are just looking for food, so it’s up to us humans to keep bears wild and prevent individual bears from becoming a public safety concern. Lock up your home and spread the word to your neighbors,” Bondurant said.

For more information about “Living with Wildlife” go to cpw. state.co.us. (Note: there have been local reports of more than four bear breakins in both Crestone and the Baca that were not officially reported.)