(Grand Mesa, CO)
Spring is transitioning to summer and Colorado black bears have emerged from their dens and are being sighted in the National Forest, on the Grand Mesa, in the Gunnison and Pike-San Isabel National Forests and beyond. And it’s not just in the wilderness where people encounter bears. One of the biggest threats to a black bear’s existence in the Rocky Mountain state is bear encounters with people in residential areas. Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Joe Lewandowski says that all too frequently a “problem bear” has to be killed by wildlife officers because it has become too acclimated to people and unafraid. This inevitably leads to conflict between people and bears. Wildlife officials will try to relocate a bear if it poses a problem or threat, but if a bear continues to pursue food in residential neighborhoods it may be killed as a precaution.
Lewandowski says that it’s important for folks living in areas where homes and wildland interface to not leave bear attractants out, such as pet food, trash, and other items that might draw wildlife in by their aroma. He adds that feeding wildlife is perhaps the worst thing an animal lover can do because it ensure the animal will return and greatly increases the odds of conflict with humans.