Summer is officially in full swing, and as visitors and Coloradans alike spend more time in bear country, it is critical to stay bear aware. Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds everyone that it is crucial to bearproof your property and cars when living in or traveling to bear country this summer.
Black bears are curious and smart animals, always on the lookout for a meal that requires the least amount of effort. Cars, garages, and houses unfortunately often provide the meal a bear is looking for with easily accessible human food, garbage, pet food and other attractants available. When people allow bears access to these attractants, a bear's instinctive drive to eat can overcome its fear of humans.
To help keep bears wild, it is important that those living and recreating in bear country are bear-proofing their home and property, including cars and campers. Don’t make it easy and appealing for bears to visit your property, and you'll help prevent conflicts between humans and bears.
“Bear-proofing your property is essential during the summer months as bears are actively foraging for food, especially as fall approaches,” said J Wenum, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “People can prevent conflicts with bears and other wildlife, and we really need everyone to follow the proper precautions to help keep your property, your neighborhood, and our bear population safe. In the summer bears typically forage for insects, leaves, and flowers of broad-leafed plants but all it takes is one careless person to encourage a bear to get into a neighbor’s home, car or trash can.”
Properly bearproofing your home may mean taking several of the recommended steps below:
Keep Bears Out
Close and lock all bear-accessible windows and doors when you leave the house, and at night before you go to bed.
Install sturdy grates or bars on windows if you must leave them open.
Keep car doors and windows closed and locked if you park outside. Make sure there’s nothing with an odor in your vehicle, including candy, gum, air fresheners, trash, lotions and lip balms.
Close and lock garage doors and windows at night and when you’re not home; garage doors should be down if you are home but not outside.
Install extra-sturdy doors if you have a freezer, refrigerator, pet food, birdseed, or other attractants stored in your garage.
Remove any tree limbs that might provide access to upper-level decks and windows.
Replace exterior lever-style door handles with good quality round door knobs that bears can’t pull or push open.
Get Rid of Attractants
Don’t leave trash out overnight unless it’s in a bear-proof enclosure or container. Be sure to research all local ordinances and regulations when vacationing.
Don’t store food of any kind in an unlocked garage, flimsy shed or on or under your deck.
Don’t leave anything with an odor outside, near open windows or in your vehicle, even if you’re home. That includes scented candles, air fresheners, lip balms and lotions.
Only feed birds when bears are hibernating. Birds have plenty of natural foods this time of year.
Teach Bears They’re Not Welcome
If a bear comes close to your home, scare it away. Loud noises like a firm yell, clapping your hands, banging on pots and pans or blowing an air horn sends most bears running.
Utilize electric fencing, unwelcome mats and scent deterrents like ammonia to teach bears that your property is not bear-friendly.
If a bear enters your home, open doors and windows and ensure it can leave the same way it got in. Don’t approach the bear or block escape routes.
Never approach a bear. If a bear won’t leave your area, call your local CPW office. If a bear presents an immediate threat to human safety, call 911.
“Adjusting your habits to living with wildlife takes a little effort at first, but over time it becomes a better way to live,”said Wenum. “When you keep your property bear-proof, you're making your homes and neighborhoods a safer place for yourself and for bears. These actions will also help lessen conflicts with other wildlife such as skunks, raccoons, and ravens.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has several resources available that can help you find the right methods for protecting your home and property while bears are active. For additional information, see our Living with Bears page or visit cpw.state.co.us.