Take precautions in bear country this fall
In the fall, bears are actively searching for food, and while camping in Colorado remains largely safe, it’s still necessary to be careful when entering a bear’s natural territory – the forests.
And so, officials warn – whether camping or hiking on a National Forest, in the front country or in the back country – to be prepared to share the forest with the bears.
For those spending time outside this fall, keep in mind that:
>Bears have a keen sense of smell and are very curious. Any strange odor will attract a bear.
> Bears are opportunity feeders; they go to the easy food sources.
> Bears are easily habituated; once they equate food with a particular object, odor or place, they will keep coming back for more. Females will teach their cubs these lessons.
> Once habituated, bears can become very aggressive when searching for food.
Avoid encounters with bears by:
> Thinking about “attractants” and not just food. An attractant is anything that emits an odor; food and food packaging, toiletries, medications, cooking equipment and eating utensils, stoves and stove fuel along with other petroleum products, and the clothing you were wearing while cooking and eating. If it emits an odor, it is an attractant.
> Storing your attractants – including trash – in the automobile (when available) or hard sided camper when not in use.
> Properly cleaning and disposing of food containers. Do not burn out containers. Do not leave empty food containers lying around your camp.
> Being aware that the fire ring is an attractant itself if it is used for cooking. It is important to burn only wood or paper and to pack out all food containers, foil and food waste.
> Straining waste water for food waste and then dispose of it at least 100 feet away from the sleeping area by dispersing it onto vegetation. Do not pour it all in one spot. Do not pour it into the fire ring.
> Bringing a large “stuff sack” for use as a bear bag and adequate rope for hanging your bear bag. Bear bags should be hung between two trees at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the trunk of the trees. In some areas, it’s required or recommended to use a bear-proof storage container for attractants.
> Establishing a bear triangle at camp, separating food preparation and eating area, attractant storage areas and sleeping areas by at least 100 feet from each other and where possible, establish your sleeping area up wind of the cooking area. In heavily used back country campsites, consider utilizing a common cooking and eating area well away from all tent sites.
>Changing into sleeping cloths near your attractant storage area and leave your day clothing in the bear bag.
> Carrying bear sprays and air horns, which have proven to be successful in deterring bears in many situations.
Serious conflicts with wildlife should be reported to Colorado Parks and Wildlife immediately, because delayed action can limit official management options.
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