As bear run-ins increase, how can you keep your home safe?
Bears are a common sight in Colorado. But this year it seems as if there are more bears in neighborhoods than ever.
Why? Temperatures have something to do with it.
Each fall is feeding season for bears. As the temperatures drop, they need to fatten up on 20,000 calories a day to get themselves through winter.
That age-old process has been more difficult this year – mostly due to the weather. Fox 31 Denver meteorologist Chris Tomer said record drought conditions are forcing bears to abandon their natural feeding areas.
“They can’t find much food in the mountains, nor a whole lot of water,” Tomer said. “So they’re coming down in elevation to many of the valley towns”
And that means run-ins with humans. Colorado Parks and Wildlife official Jennifer Churchill said there are simple ways you can avoid that potentially dangerous situation. And it starts on your curbside.
“Bears really love stinky smelly garbage,” Churchill said. “Anything that smells like rotting food — they love that.”
Churchill would advise you to ask your waste management provider about bear-proof bins. Because once the animals get accustomed to the free meals, they often need to be euthanized.
“That’s when they become a public safety issue,” Churchill said.
Another bear magnet is hanging in many backyards: bird feeders.
“Birdseed is really high in calories and unfortunately bears can’t resist it because it helps them pack on those pounds,” Churchill said. “
If you can’t bring yourself to get rid of those bird feeders for good, Churchill would advise you to wait until the winter when birds need that food the most.
Two more tips: Keep food for animals locked up, and lay out an “un-welcome” mat.
“A mat of nails or a little electric mat can give bears just a little jolt,” Churchill said. “That will make them leery about coming back.”
For more on how to keep bears at bay, check on the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s “Living with Bears” website.