Colorado’s Wildlife: Black Bears
Colorado is bear country, no doubt about it. Around 11,000 bears roam the state of Colorado, and all of them are Black Bears. There are no Grizzly (Brown) Bears in Colorado anymore. Black bears are not always black; their colors range from light brown to cinnamon reds. Males can weigh up to 600 pounds, and be five ft tall standing upright. Females weigh up to 300 pounds. 90 percent of their diet is made up of plants, but they also feed on dead animals or carrion. Let’s take a look at some essential information regarding black bears that pertains Colorado inhabitants.
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Tips for living in Bear country
Bears are naturally curious and smart creatures. They also have a powerful sense of smell and can detect food from a 5-mile distance. Bear encounters are very rare, as black bears are also shy and run away when in the presence of humans. There have been only three bear attacks recorded in Colorado since the 1960’s. Even so, bears are powerful animals that can’t be underestimated, and precautions need to be taken when living in bear country.
- Food and Garbage storage. Whether you’re out in the country camping with your family or having a BBQ with some friends in your backyard, bears will always be attracted by the smell of food and garbage. At home, it’s recommended to take out the trash in the mornings, and not leave it out overnight. Also use bear-proof containers or install an electric fence. Always lock bear-accessible windows and doors. When camping, never leave food or garbage unattended. All food, cooking equipment, and waste must be stored in bear-resistant storage canisters or inside closed vehicles, if possible. Bears are on the constant look out for fattening calories for winter. Their active time starts around March and ends in late November.
- Bird Feeders. As harmless as they may seem, bird feeders contain delicious seeds with abundant calories, which is what bears are after. Bears already know where to find food, and they sure know by now that they can hit a nice jackpot of seeds in town. It is highly recommended not to feed birds during months when bears are most active. If you still want to keep feeding the birds, make sure the bird feeder is hanging at least 10 ft. from the ground, and far from anything the bear might use to climb. Make sure to keep the area clean and to store the seeds inside the house, or somewhere safe where they can’t reach.
- In the case of a bear encounter… First of all, do not run. Bears will chase after, and they will outrun the fastest human being. Do not play dead; that only works with Grizzly bears. Since Black Bears eat carrion, dead animals, playing dead is not a good idea. Best to stay calm and walk away slowly. Try to frighten the bear away: lift your arms to make yourself appear taller and make noise by clapping, whistling and shouting. And if attacked, fight back, throw sticks or rocks or anything you can. If you happen to run into a cub, try to get away as fast as possible, as momma bear is sure to be around.
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