Crestone residents need to stay ‘bear aware’ through November
published October 2019
by Joe Lewandowski,
Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Even though the weather is growing cool, Crestone residents must remain “bear aware” through October and into November to help keep bears wild, said a wildlife expert.
“Bears are in their hyperphagia stage which means they’re eating around the clock to put on the fat they need to get them through the winter,” said Clayton Bondurant, district wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the northern San Luis Valley. “Bears are on the move and they’re looking for food wherever they can find it, including in town.”
This summer bears broke into numerous structures around Crestone and have found easy access to human food.
“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,” Bondurant said.
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 is 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. Cans should be cleaned regularly with bleach or ammonia to reduce odors. Items such as food scraps that can produce odors in trash cans 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 they should be taken down during the summer. You can attract birds naturally with bird-baths 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.
“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 by locking up your home and spreading the word to your neighbors,” Bondurant said.
Crestone residents are also reminded to keep dogs on a leash or under strict voice control. Dogs must not be allowed to chase wildlife, Bondurant said.
For more information about “Living with Wildlife” go to cpw.state.co.us.
Simple “bear aware” tips:
• Keep garbage in a well-secured location;
• Only put out garbage on the morning of pickup.
• Clean garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free.
• Use a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster; available from your trash hauler or on the Internet.
• If you don’t have secure storage, put items that might become smelly into the freezer until trash day.
• Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside.
• Bird feeders are a major source of bear/human conflicts. Attract birds naturally with flowers and water baths. Do not hang bird feeders from April 15 to Nov. 15.
• If you must have bird feeders: clean up beneath them every day, bring them in at night, and hang them high so that they’re completely inaccessible to bears.
• Do not attract other wildlife by feeding them, such as deer, turkeys or small mammals.
• Don’t allow bears to become comfortable around your house. If you see one, yell at them, throw things at them, make noise to scare them off.
• Secure compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food—and they’ll eat anything.
• Bears have good memories and will return to places they’ve found food.
• Allow grills to burn for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors. Clean the grill after each use.
• Clean-up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck. Don’t allow food odors to linger.
• If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to rot on the ground.
• Keep garage doors closed.
• Lock your doors when you’re away from home and at night.
• Keep the bottom floor windows of your house closed when you’re not at home.
• Do not keep food in your vehicle; roll up windows and lock the doors of your vehicles.
• When car-camping, secure all food and coolers in a locked vehicle after you’ve eaten.
• Keep a clean camp, whether you’re in a campground or in the back-country.
• When camping in the back-country, hang food 100’ or more from campsite; don’t bring any food into your tent
• Cook food well away from your tent; wash dishes thoroughly.
• Talk to your neighbors and kids about being bear aware.
• If you keep small livestock, keep animals in a fully covered enclosure that is electrified. Don’t stock store food outside, keep enclosures clean to minimize odors, hang rags soaked in ammonia and/or Pine-Sol around the enclosure.
• If you have bee hives, install electric fencing where allowed.
• For more information go to the Living with Wildlife section on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife web site: cpw.state.co.us.