Living with Bears

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Black Bear in a field

Black bears are curious, smart and very adaptable. They’re not fussy and will eat just about anything with calories. Bears want to get the most energy they can with the least amount of effort. Every bear’s goal is to get fat enough to live through the winter. 

Most conflicts between people and bears can be traced to easy-to-get-at human food, garbage, pet food, bird seed or other attractants. When people allow bears to find food, a bear’s natural drive to eat can overcome its wariness of humans.

Bears that get too comfortable around people can destroy property or even become a threat to human safety. Habituated bears must often be destroyed. Please don’t let bears die needlessly. Do your part to bear-proof your home and property, and help keep bears alive and wild.

Every time the Department of Wildlife is forced to destroy a bear, it’s not just the bear that loses. We all lose a little piece of the wildness that makes Summit County so special.

How You Can Help 

·         Secure your trash.
·         Remove birdfeeders.
·         Keep BBQs clean.
·         Keep pet food indoors.
·         Keep garage doors closed.
·         Secure windows and doors.
·         Don’t leave food or trash inside your vehicle.

Garbage Kills Bears

The Town’s trash ordinance is intended to protect people and animals. When wildlife has access to trash, it brings them closer to our homes, creating a potentially dangerous situation for animals and people. Failure to abide by the following guidelines could result a mandatory court appearance.

  • Garbage can only be placed at curbside for same day pickup between the hours of 6am-10pm.

  • Black Bear in the trash

    Garbage can only be placed outside for pick up if it is fully contained in an appropriate receptacle. The lid of the container must be securely attached, leaving no gaps between the container and lid.

  • All households are required to store garbage cans inside a home, garage, building, or shed, unless their garbage can is equipped with some type of latching mechanism that will hold the lid securely to the can.

Click HERE to view the complete ordinance and open ordinance 5-2-2 Garbage Receptacles.

Bird Feeders Kill Bears

Studies show that a big meal of nutritious bird seeds — a natural food for bears — is often the first reward a bear gets for exploring human places. Letting your bird feeders turn into bear feeders teaches bears that it’s safe to come close to people and homes looking for food. Unfortunately, this can be a deadly lesson for a bear.

We recommend not feeding birds during the months when bears are active. Instead of bird feeders, use water features, plantings, nest boxes and flowers to attract birds.

Stay Safe

Black bears are highly intelligent, with individual responses to people and situations. Wild black bears seldom attack unless they feel threatened, cornered, or are provoked.

If You Surprise a Bear on a Trail

Stand still, stay calm and let the bear identify you and leave. Talk in a normal tone of voice. Be sure the bear has an escape route.
Never run or climb a tree.
If you see cubs, their mother is usually close by. Leave the area immediately.

If the Bear Doesn’t Leave

A bear standing up is just trying to identify what you are by getting a better look and smell.
Wave your arms slowly overhead and talk calmly. If the bear huffs, pops it jaws or stomps a paw, it wants you to give it space.
Step off the trail to the downhill side, keep looking at the bear and slowly back away until the bear is out of sight.

If the Bear Approaches

A bear knowingly approaching a person could be a food-conditioned bear looking for a handout or, very rarely, an aggressive bear. Stand your ground. Yell or throw small rocks in the direction of the bear.
Get out your bear spray and use it when the bear is about 40 feet away.
If you’re attacked, don’t play dead. Fight back with anything available. People have successfully defended them­selves with pen knives, trekking poles, and even bare hands.

Click HERE for more about Living with Bears from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.