Warm weather is bringing some of Colorado's black bears out of hibernation early and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding residents to be "bear aware" to protect bears and people. With temperatures rising into the 70s already across much of Colorado, bears are beginning to emerge from dens and sightings have already been reported in Colorado Springs, Aspen, Durango and Summit County.
"So far the reports that we've received have been mostly just sightings - people seeing bears," said Cory Chick, Area Wildlife Manager for Colorado Springs. "But it's a very good time to remind people that trash is the number one bear attractant and people can do their part by following some simple rules at home."
Colorado Parks and Wildlife advises homeowners to avoid attracting bears by following these simple steps:
* Obey local trash ordinances. In areas without trash ordinances, only put trash out on the morning of pickup instead of the night before pickup.
* Take down birdfeeders during the spring and summer. Once winter ends, birds have many natural food options. Attract birds naturally with flowers and bird baths.
* Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in sheds or garages.
* Feed pets indoors.
* Keep doors and windows to your home closed and locked, especially when no one is home. Garage doors and side doors that are left open for pets are not only an open invitation to thieves they're also an open door for bears to enter homes.
* Lock car doors and don't store food in your vehicle.
"We need people to commit to making a difference for bears in Colorado," explained Rick Cables, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Bears are a great part of our wildlife resource but too many of them are being put down because they get too comfortable around people and become a danger."
Colorado is home to an estimated 16,000 to 18,000 black bears. The population is managed through limited fall hunting with localized population goals set in black bear management plans. Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists are updating many of the local management plans for bears as the agency's research unit continues to expand knowledge of bears, their habitat and their interactions with Colorado's more than 5 million human residents.
More information about living with Colorado's black bears can be found online at http://wildlife.state.co.us/bears