Bears are out and about in Colorado getting ready for hibernation — what YOU need to know

DIVIDE, Colo. (KKTV) – They are here, they are there and they are hungry.

The next few weeks are prime mealtimes for bears, who are making the last big push to prepare for hibernation.

“They forage for food 20 out of 24 hours a day to pack on that weight over the winter. They’re eating 20,000 calories a day, about 1,000 an hour,” a Colorado Parks and Wildlife worker told 11 News in a September 2018 report.

What this means for you: Bear sightings could become much more common. Viewer Mandy in Divide saw a mother and cub climb a tree on another day.

Don’t be surprised if you see more sightings like this over the next few weeks!

Earlier in the week, a bear crouched under a Colorado Springs porch, forcing wildlife officials to fire a taser and paintballs to scare it off. Though that sounds mean, game wardens say that encouraging bears to run away on their own, rather than reassuring them, allows them to avoid a “strike.” Under Colorado Parks and Wildlife guidelines, two strikes for a bear would result in it being euthanized. Crucial to bears’ own protection is that they are afraid of humans and try to avoid them.

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The best thing we can do to help bears safely get their chub on is prevent our neighborhoods from becoming an all-you-can-eat bear buffet. Lock your trash cans — and make sure they’re bear-proof on the days you must leave them outside — put away food sources like birdhouses, keep bear-accessible windows and doors locked and avoid Be careful not to leave rubbish, coolers or anything that has an odor in your vehicle as this could potentially attract bears. For more information from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, click here.

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A black bear’s typical diet consists of grasses, berries, fruits, nuts, plants, and sometimes insects or ingested carcasses. Human food is not bear food, and it is critical that bears never develop a taste for it. Human-bear interactions can end in tragedy, as in this sad case in 2019 when a bear wandered into a home in north-west Springs while the residents were cooking breakfast. The bear was already opposed to a strike for having been previously moved out of town and was eventually euthanized.

“Most human-bear conflicts can be traced back to readily available human food, garbage, bird seed, or other attractants. A bear’s natural drive to eat can overcome its wary of humans. Bears that are too comfortable around humans can learn to open doors, destroy property, or even become aggressive toward humans,” CPW said at the time.

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If a bear is roaming your property like the one Mandy saw in Teller County and keeps to himself, give him space and leave him alone. CPW says they never want to intervene with a bear that’s just living its life, and that the bear usually goes on its own when it feels ready.

Most bears begin hibernation in November, although CPW says it’s not uncommon for city bears to enter and exit hibernation on warmer winter days.

Enjoy watching our bears on the go – wildlife is part of the magic of life in Colorado.

Just be a good neighbor!

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