The Bears Are Awake – and Hungry
“Get your trash picked up and put away the bird feeders,” stated Zach Baker, District Wildlife Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). And if it seems like it’s the “same deal, different year,” it’s because it is said Baker who’s known around these parts as the-bear-guy. While many things in Leadville Today appear to be askew when it comes to normalcy and back-to-business, it seems as if the bears are right on schedule this year. And so, it seems, is residents’ bad behaviors, the kind that attracts the lumbersome black bears into neighborhoods where contact with humans can have dangerous consequences, for all the beasts involved.
“I got a couple bears in Mt. Massive Lakes; A couple bears in Mountain View West and East; A couple of bears in town,” reported Zach-The-Bear-Guy-Baker in an interview with Leadville Today on Friday, June 12. But perhaps the most concerning of all is the Mama Bear and two cubs that have been taking in some snacks at the community trash bins and bird feeders in southern Lake County which are maintained by the Friends of Twin Lakes. Here’s the information from their newsletter:
Bear sightings are generally on the rise this time of years as these beautiful, hungry creatures awaken and are in search of food. Several users have reported bear paw prints on the popular Mineral Belt Trail in the California Gulch area, and where the path crosses by the landfill. And yes, the bears have been feeding at the dump, this season a sow and three cubs have been identified by Lake County Public Works officials who manage the facility, which is a traditional hot spot for hungry bears. In fact, there’s a route they take, so to speak, according to Baker.
“They feed at the dump and then go back through town trying to get to the river to get a drink of water,” explained Baker. So perhaps a word of caution to the construction crews working the MBT upgrade project in Leadville eastern mining district. But unfortunately, the trash throughout town can add to that problem. And according to Baker, if it’s in your trash, then it’s your problem. Don’t store trash in the bed of your pickup, waiting a week to take it to the dump. It should be stored in a container inside a shed/garage.
“The state of Colorado does not trap bears over trash,” said Baker. “So if someone calls me and says there’s a bear in my trash, that’s on them.” He went on to explain CPW policy: “The reason we relocate bears is if they show aggressive behavior or they are in an occupied dwelling. The reason that they start showing aggressive behavior is that they came to that house/location, they got rewarded with some kind of food and then they came back the next night and got rewarded. But then on the third night, they come back and there’s no trash there. Well, now the bear’s upset because his food source is gone. That’s when they go looking for car doors to open, other trash cans, an open window.”
When it comes to camping, you shouldn’t even go out if you are not bear aware.
“Don’t leave your coolers out. Everyone thinks, oh it’s a bear-proof cooler, but that’s not true. They will get into your cooler,” stated Baker, adding one of the more interesting bear facts yet. “Colorado bears know that if they see a white and blue igloo cooler, guess what’s in it?! FOOD!” While it sounds a bit like a Superbowl beer commercial, Baker stated that whether they are full or empty you are better off leaving the coolers in a locked car, because they will likely be destroyed if left out by the campsite or in a tent.
So when did Baker think things will quiet down a bit for bear activity? Some years it quiets down after the initial wake-up and he won’t get another bear report again until August. Other years, it’s all summer long. Stay tuned and stay bear aware!
What to Do If You See a Bear?
Report a Bear Sighting to CPW
Save a bear – report a bear! Lake County residents can call the emergency dispatch center at 719-486-1249 and they will contact Zach “the-bear-guy” Baker to address your bear concerns. If you see a bear in the wild, don’t call, but if you have a bear coming to your trash can every night, it’s best to report it.
Baker wants to remind folks to take in all bird feeders at night as that has been the target in many incidents. While many residents like to bring these fine-feathered friends in close with hard seeds and sugary water in order to have a closer look, it’s the number one attraction for bears.
“In a perfect world, we’d get rid of bird feeders,” Baker stated. “The birds will live without us feeding them.”
While no property damage has not been reported in Lake County yet this year, down in Buena Vista there have been issues with several bears smart enough to open up car doors. To date this season, no bears have been trapped, put down or re-located, according to Baker.
Want more information about bear safety? READ THE BROCHURE put out by the CPW.
Bear Found in C. Spgs Home Killed
On Sunday, June 15 wildlife officers with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) euthanized a bear that entered a Colorado Springs home. When officers arrived at the northwest neighborhood house, they found a 150-pound male black bear sitting on the family couch. The resident who had been leisurely cooking up some bacon on a Sunday morning saw the bear approach the property and rip the patio door off to gain access to the house. Fortunately, the resident was able to safely remove herself from the residence and alerted authorities.
In an interview with ABC-affiliate WHAS11 out of Colorado Springs: CPW said wildlife officers had previously relocated the bear from a Northeast region neighborhood, however, it managed to navigate itself back into this neighborhood in an attempt to look for food. After assessing the situation, wildlife officials euthanized the bear.
“It’s always a hard day when we have to euthanize a bear,” said District Wildlife Manager Cassidy English. “Our mission is to protect wildlife. When bears become habituated to people, they can become a threat to public safety. This is why it is so important that our community works together to keep wildlife wild.”