Be bear aware
May 26, 2016
As mud season shifts into summer in the high country tourists once again begin ascending the mountain passes to reach the solemn splendor of the Rockies.
With the coming Memorial Day weekend Grand County expects to be inundated with travelers, many who may not be aware of the danger posed by wildlife living in the mountains. This Saturday, May 28, Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Jeromy Huntington will be the featured speaker for Rocky Mountain National Park's Saturday Night in the Park Speaker Series.
Huntington's presentation is called "Bears, Bears, Bears" and provides a discussion of bear biology as well as lessons on how to be bear aware. The presentation will be held at 7 p.m. at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, located near the Park's Grand Lake entrance. The presentation is free and open to the public. Huntington's presentation will pertain specifically to the increasingly common sightings of bears in the Colorado River District inside Rocky.
Huntington will cover a variety of bear related topics from bear behavior and intelligence to what to do if you encounter a bear. Huntington will also review how campers can prevent encounters, stressing the importance of keeping food inside vehicles or locked containers and keeping nothing but yourself and sleeping bags inside your tent.
Every year conflicts invariably arise between humans and wildlife in the mountains. Deer and elk pose relatively little danger to humans but creatures like moose, mountain lions and bears can be potentially fatal. More often than not though the party that loses its life is the animal, generally because of the ignorance of humans. Moose are particularly dangerous to anyone with a dog while mountain lions have been known, on very rare occasions, to actually hunt people. Arguably the most common types of conflicts that result in the death of a wild animal are those involving bears.
Bears are opportunistic scavengers who spend the spring, summer and fall working to consume every calorie they can to prepare themselves for winter hibernation. Bears like easy meals and as such often congregate near human settlements where they can access garbage and other food sources left out by absentminded people.
During the summer as more hikers and campers begin crisscrossing the trails that fill our National Forests and National Parks conflicts increase. Last September a family camping in the Vasquez Creek area outside Winter Park was approached in the night by a young bear cub that tried to access a plastic food tub kept at the campsite. Unfortunately the cub was shot and killed by one of the campers who believed the bear posed a threat.
Bears and other wildlife can be dangerous, but by taking time to learn how to mitigate danger, and by employing a bit of common sense, humans can reduce the number of conflicts between bears and themselves, and maybe save a few bears in the process.