When newspapers write about bears getting into another house or residence, we don’t always know the whole story. Sadly, many homeowners and visitors are fascinated with seeing bears so close and they mistakenly think the bears are domesticated in some way.
It is time to wake up and accept the fact that we live in bear country — we are the intruders, not the bears. Our actions are significant and can be the difference between safe human-bear interactions or conflicts.
First, tend to your trash. Always lock things, put anything that smells like food away and secure doors and windows. Bears are trying to bulk-up before hibernation, so when we carelessly leave tempting and easy-to-acquire food around, we are actually training the local bears to come and get it.
Second, respect wildlife. Yes, we know it is fun to like and share social media posts about bears in backyards and running around local streets — we get it, they are cute. But this sends a mixed message to friends, neighbors and visitors. We need to respect bears and their typical behavior. Bears do not really care to interact with humans, so there are simple things we can do to avoid the potential for any conflict.
Third, accept personal responsibility for personal choices and actions. We can all do something that helps wildlife stay wild and recognize that “human” living areas are not great places to hang out. Take the time to become acquainted with “bear aware” materials (and then follow the suggestions). Stop blaming everyone else, especially Colorado Parks and Wildlife, for the problem and become a positive voice for change in your own neighborhood.
You can do so much with a little effort, such as: organize fruit pick-up to remove attractants; encourage town trash regulations to be followed and request that violators be fined; ask neighbors to remove bird feeders from the time that bears wake up until November; demand that town officials enforce all pet leash laws.
Reach out and seek education from community groups that are eager and capable to help. Then, follow the suggestions that are given instead of brushing them off as if you know better.
We can work better as community members to stop relocating and euthanizing the bears and bear families. We can take simple steps to correct bad human behaviors (unsecured trash, baiting bears to take pictures). We can support local regulations meant to reduce human-bear conflict and pressure our municipalities to levy larger fines when regulations are disregarded. We can do our part to learn and act wisely.
Roaring Fork Bears
Originally published by The Aspen Daily News, September 7, 2022