Bears prowl for food in Grand County
Grand County, CO Colorado
Dry weather in the high country has resulted in an uptick of bear encounters in Colorado’s northwest.
“Anecdotally, the word out there in many parts of the state is that the bear activity has increased due to the conditions,” said Mike Porras, spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The reason may be a shortage of wild foods due to the lack of moisture, leading wildlife to seek out trash.
In Grand County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Manager Scott Murdoch has received an estimated 40 bear-related calls already this season, which is considered more than last year, he said.
“Bear calls have definitely increased. With the dry weather, food is more difficult to come by,” he said. “Not that there’s no food out there; it’s just that food in town is a lot easier to get to.”
The majority of incidents have been in the Granby and Grand Lake areas, but some calls have originated in the Fraser Valley.
“Trapping and relocating (bears) is not the best solution. There’s about a dozen different bears working these different areas,” Murdoch said. “Removing one bear doesn’t solve the problem.”
A few incidents have involved unsecured homes where the only barrier between bear and inside garbage was a window screen or door screen, according to Murdoch. Bears can lean against the screen and accidentally break through, creating an opportunity to find food sources inside.
Bear behavior is driven by their stomachs, and that can mean going in some places where they aren’t normally comfortable going, Murdoch said.
For this reason, Parks and WIldlife officials are warning residents and visitors to be “extra diligent” in keeping food sources secure.
“Bears are going to keep coming back as long as they are rewarded with food,” he said.
All the calls in Grand County so far have been food-related, with most involving large trash bins, he said.
“All bear conflicts really are preventable,” Murdoch said.
Taking care of bear attractants, such as securing Dumpsters and outside garbage, securing the house, putting away bird feeders and keeping pet food indoors, can solve the problem of a visiting bear.
Very rarely do bear visits result in human conflicts, Murdoch said, but a bear that might feel cornered or trapped could result in one.
“We just want to warn people. We do live in the mountains, and we do have bears. People need to take precautions even though they may be inconvenient.
“I think it’s going to be a long season,” Murdoch said.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603
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