Bear Safety In Spring Time
As is typical with Colorado springtime weather, we went from sunny skies and 70 degrees a few days ago to a downpour of heavy, wet snow tonight. All of my trees and bushes are budding, and the branches are already arching toward the ground under the weight of the heavy snow after only an hour of the storm, I hope they aren’t damaged too much. But it will get back to the mid 50’s in the next couple of days while I am on my way to Nebraska for a spring turkey hunt. Hopefully this weather will help with the turkey hunting, even if it costs me my foliage here at home.
Spring also means new life emerging all around us, the sounds of birds chirping, and the drab colors of winter replaced by the brilliance of bright flowers, vibrant buds on trees, and green grass. This is also the time of year when bears are coming out of hibernation, and they are hungry, and some will have cubs with them, either newborns or young cubs. This is a vulnerable time for bears, and all young spring wildlife for that matter, but the bears have been in a state of near comatose for several months, and they need to restore lost body weight quickly. By the way, I think bear hibernation is an amazing act of nature. I wrote an interesting and informative article about bears which you can read by clicking here.
As human populations encroach further into bear habitat, and as bear populations continue to grow due to excellent wildlife management, encounters between humans and bears are on the rise. But we humans have several things we can do to help minimize these encounters, and hopefully save the lives of some bears as a result. If you live in an area where bears are nearby, here are some tips that can help prevent human/bear encounters or problems:
- Keep garbage in a well-secured enclosure.
- Only put out garbage on the morning of pickup.
- Take down all bird feeders – birds don’t need to be fed during the summer. Bird feeders are a major source of bear/human conflicts. Attract birds naturally with flowers and water baths.
- Clean garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free.
- 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.
- Never provide food for any wildlife.
- Secure compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food.
- Fully enclose backyard bee hives and chicken coops. Electric fencing is an effective bear deterrent.
- Allow grills to burn for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors.
- 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.
- Keep the bottom floor windows of your house closed when you’re not at home.
- Do not keep food or used food containers in your vehicle.
- Lock vehicle doors and roll up the windows. A bear can pop the window out of a car fairly easily if it can get its paws inside the window, as you can see by clicking this quick video.
- Talk to your neighbors and kids about being bear aware.
By following these simple tips, we can all do our part to prevent bear problems and keep the bears wild. As a hunter and wildlife conservationist I am extremely saddened every time I learn of a human/wildlife encounter that results in the death of either, which could have been prevented. Read the article I mentioned above to learn how to deal with bear encounters when they happen, but more importantly try to prevent them in the first place.