A bear sighted leaving a Surrey Ridge yard after visiting the bird feeder. Two black bears that are very dark in color – a cub and its mom – have also been seen roaming around Castle Pines as well as Surrey Ridge this year looking for food sources.
By Patte Smith; photo courtesy of Lesca Grant
Sightings of black bears and bear cubs have been numerous this summer in the city of Castle Pines, Surrey Ridge, Happy Canyon and other surrounding areas. With winter just around the corner, bears are fattening up their bodies by eating as many as 20,000 calories per day to sustain them during hibernation. It is this time of year when they are very active seeking food anywhere they can find it.
Black bears are curious, smart, adaptable, and have great memories. With a nose that is 100 times more sensitive than humans, a bear can literally smell food five miles away. Once they find food they come back for more. Bears that find food around homes, campgrounds and communities often lose their natural wariness of people. Black bears are not naturally aggressive and seldom attack or injure people, but if a bear is intent on getting a meal it could injure someone who gets in its way. While not a nocturnal animal, bears often travel at night to avoid humans.
Castle Pines is surrounded by semi-rural neighborhoods that are considered bear habitat. Since the bears can easily move through these areas while not disturbing people, the Department of Wildlife (DOW) handles bear complaints the same way as they handle them in semi-rural areas. “The DOW will not come into these neighborhoods unless a bear is aggressive or a real nuisance,” explains Jennifer Churchill, the public information officer for the northeastern region of the DOW. “It depends on a bear’s behavior whether we would need to remove it. Residents need to realize that it is important to keep bears afraid of you so they do not want to return to a home or an area for food. Never feed wildlife and take precautions with food sources around homes.”
There are several things that residents can do to discourage bears so they do not seek food in the area.
Do not store pet food outside, and keep your garbage in your garage or bear proof container. Periodically clean garbage cans to reduce food odor.
Hang bird feeders on a wire between trees at least 10 feet off the ground instead of on a porch, deck or outside pole.
Keep your barbecue grill clean and store it indoors, such as in the garage.
Do not put fruit, melon rinds, or other tasty items in mulch or compost heaps.
Do not reward bears for coming into human territory. They should have a healthy fear of us to avoid conflict.
To learn about deterrents for black bears visit www.cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Education/LivingWithWildlife/BearDeterrents.pdf.
If you encounter a bear stay calm. Bear attacks are very rare, but bears will attack humans if they feel threatened or provoked. Here is what you can do if you come upon a bear:
If the bear has not seen you, move away, talking aloud as you back away so that the bear knows you are present.
Back away from the bear slowly while facing towards it. Avoid direct eye contact with the bear, as this may be perceived as a threat. Give the bear plenty of room to escape.
Don’t run or make any sudden movements. You cannot outrun a bear, and this may prompt the bear to give chase. Do not climb a tree. If cubs are present, move away from them.
If all else fails and the bear attacks you, fight back. Black bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks, binoculars, and even their bare hands. However, do not make the first attack move, because more often than not you can escape the situation without any aggression. You do not want to try to fight a bear.
It is important that residents in the Castle Pines, Surrey Ridge, Happy Canyon and adjacent neighborhoods bear-proof their homes and property. It will help keep residents safe and help keep bears alive and wild.
For more information about dealing with black bears visit www.cpw.state.co.us.