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GARBAGE DOES NOT KILL BEARS

I recently sat in on a seminar given by the Department of Wildlife for Bear Awareness. Bears a highly intelligent, agile and opportunistic. They just follow their nose and think with their stomachs. I learned so much but was saddened by the fact that bears are destroyed each year.

As a society we really need to learn to live with these animals. The most important rule is to keep trash away from the bears. If they get nothing at your home they will move on. Garbage does not kill bears like the bumper sticker says. The reality is improper storage of garbage kills bears. To minimize bear encounters keep trash in bear proof containers or in a secure building until trash day. Aspen allows trash on the curb from 6 A.M. to 6P.M. the day of service only.

People have all kinds of solutions to the bear problem but each one has its down side.

Relocation rarely works. The relocated bears are often killed by the bear that already resides in that territory. They are not herd animals and are very territorial. You could not place a male in another male’s territory. It is difficult to finds a suitable release site and survival rates are low.

Mass feeding or drop site feeding. Again they are not herd animals like deer and elk and do not eat together, let alone in one place regularly. This is only a solution to herd animals in harsh winter conditions.

We place our wildlife at risk when we act irresponsibly. These bears are on a 2 strike policy. Twice in trouble and they are destroyed. We have a bear every 2 square miles in Aspen. It is VERY important that if you call the DOW on a bear you have an accurate description of the bear so the wrong bear is not blamed. Things like…How big in relation to a dog is it? How low is its belly to the ground? Did it have a radio collar? Color and weight. Was its face and neck thick or thin? These tell the officer a lot about the age and sex and can help determine which bear it is. They hate the thought of destroying the wrong animal.

Minimize Your Bear Encounters

Keeping trash in bear proof containers or a secure building (replace exterior lever door knobs with round door knobs).

Do not leave pet food outside.

If bears are present remove all bird feeders, including Hummers.

Clean your BBQ and remove grease traps and burn off food residue.

Do not put fruit and veggies in compost piles

Pick all fruit from trees as it ripens and remove all fallen fruit from the ground. Consider a fruitless tree if beginning a landscape project.

Keep all lower level windows and doors closed and secured. If a bear enters your house open doors and do not get between the bear and the escape route.

MOST IMPORTANT Do not feed the bears, try to approach them, take photos of them. Call the Division of Wildlife at 947-2920 m-f 8:00 to 5:00 after hours contact the Colorado State Patrol or your local Sheriff or Police Dept.

 

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement can teach a bear it is not welcome at your home. DO NOT chase or harass it once it has left the area. If it comes back scare it away again. You want to convince the bear that it is safe in the woods and not around your home.

Noise – Air horns, banging pots and pans, or a firm loud voice.

Pepper Spray – be careful which way the wind is blowing.

Slingshot – tennis balls or golf balls to sting the bear.

Water – A hard stream of water from a hose.

Rubber Buckshot or bean bag – fired from a shot gun (not at their face).

A bear that is blowing, popping its jaw, or puffing at you is trying to let you know you are too close. It DOES NOT mean it is going to attack. It is simply letting you know your presence is making it uncomfortable.

To learn more about these and other methods contact the Division of Wildlife at 947-2920 m-f 8:00 to 5:00
 

 

The Bear Facts

Hibernation

In preparation for hibernation bears eat 20 hours a day! They need as much as 20,000 calories a day to survive their six months hibernation.

Females enter their dens in late October and males in November.

They den in rock caves, hole beneath shrubs and trees, hollow logs, rotten trees and in brush thickets.

They go without food for 6 months during hibernation. A hibernating bears heart rate drops, breathing slows and its body temperature drops 4-12 degrees. During this time they do not eat, drink, or eliminate body waste. They maintain their energy level and water balance by using stored fat.

Cubs are born in January or February while the mother is in hibernation.



Attacks are NOT Common

Consider yourself lucky if you see a bear in Colorado. Many people live in Colorado for years and never see a bear. However in our neck of the woods a chance sighting is increasingly possible. But what are the odds you would be attacked by a bear. Extremely low. There have only been 2 people killed by black bears in Colorado in the last century (1971 & 1993).

For each death caused by a black bear, there are:

17 deaths from spiders
180 deaths from bees and hornets
90,000 deaths from homicides
25 from snake bites
150 from tornados
374 from lightening

 

For more bear facts: http://aspenpitkin.com/Departments/Police/Aspen-Bears/Facts-About-Bears/