Whenever I visit my oldest friend in Durango, Colorado in the Spring through Fall months, there is one thing I can count on, if I don’t close the lid to the Garbage container properly the bears will remind me to do it next time. Black bears especially have been living in the areas on the edge of towns and cities for some time, but as we encroach more into the forests and foothills of their range you can be sure that encounters are going to occur. This does not mean we have to invite them in with the aroma of our left overs as these bears have become expert dumpster divers.
Bears love to eat, I mean who doesn’t? Whether you are camping, having a picnic or merely left some fish scales in the bed or your pick-up truck, this is like ringing the dinner bell for a hungry bear. People need to understand that the bears don’t realize they are crashing your party, they just go where the scent takes them, and the more often they find food in your neighborhood the more they will visit and also begin to lose their wariness of humans.
Bears with cubs are especially dangerous. This summer, I walked into the backyard late at night only to come face to face with a Black bear sow and her two cubs. I was way too close for comfort and slowly backed away, closed the sliding glass door and proceeded to lock myself in the bathroom until morning. Never, ever… get between a momma bear and her cubs! Ever! Black bears are generally non aggressive and attacks on humans are rare, unless of course you are perceived as danger to their cubs or get in the way of their next meal. They are big, strong, have sharp claws and pretty much don’t know any better.
Bears need to be wary around humans. When you allow a bear to lose its fear of humans by encouraging it to visit your home by leaving bait or garbage or anything bears perceive as a food source, you may be dooming that bear to being killed. Bears that lose the fear of humans and have already, or can potentially harm someone are usually destroyed by the local game warden or sheriff. Don’t let that be your fault!
Bear proof garbage cans are the first line of defense from keeping bears out of your neighborhood. Leaving a normal plastic or aluminum garbage can out overnight for pick-up the next is just not going to cut it. A few hundred pounds of bear beats thin plastic or metal every time. Many communities insist on bear proof garbage cans that also have mechanisms to keep the lid closed. If bears learn a habit of coming to your home for an easy meal, they will keep coming back. If possible don’t put out your trash until the morning to reduce the chance of attracting bears. Clean the garbage cans with powerful cleaners regularly as well.
Bears are also attracted by bird feeders and the seeds you put out to attract your fine feathered friends can attract bears as well. It’s like a fast food drive through for bears. If at all possible don’t fill bird feeders during prime bear months or at least raise the feeders out of reach of the bears. Flower beds and bird baths will keep birds happy while not attracting bears to you yard.
Just bit of common sense can keep both your family and the bears happy and safe.
Key tips for bear proofing you home:
1. Use Bear proof trash containers
2. Don’t leave garbage out overnight if possible
3. Don’t use bird feeders during bear season
4. Remove anything in the yard that might attract bears
5. Lock windows and doors that might be bear accessible
6. Clean garbage cans periodically to be scent free
7. Do no leave pet food outside overnight