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There’s bears in them thar Pines!

Photo courtesy of RCHS student Blake Kortum

RCHS zoology teacher Jessica Muniz (left) stands proudly with three of her students who made a presentation to the Castle Pines City Council proposing a safety solution to prevent bears from getting into garbage cans. Left to right: Mars Tweed, Cameron Love, and Casey Oberholtzer.

By Kathy Fallert; courtesy photos

There has been a lot of hullabaloo recently about our friendly – or maybe not so friendly neighborhood bears scurrying about. Reports have been made of a bear entering a car in Forest Park, bears roaming through residents’ yards in Surrey Ridge, bears strolling down Monarch Boulevard, and even a bear entering a house in Castle Pines Village.

Several young residents have taken action to be better prepared and are also educating others, including the Castle Pines City Council, to do the same.

Castle Pines resident and Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) senior Mars Tweed took on this issue as part of his school zoology project and presented his ideas to the Castle Pines City Council last month. Tweed presented with fellow classmates sophomore Cameron Love from Highlands Ranch and sophomore Casey Oberholtzer from Castle Pines Village.

Tweed commented, “I knew that Castle Pines residents had reported seeing bears in their neighborhoods over the summer, so we decided that our solution would be bear-proof trash cans. We also came up with some ways for people to help not attract bears.”

Tweed, Love, and Oberholtzer presented bear safety tips to the city council, which included keeping bird feeders high and out of reach, and cleaning up any bird seed that had fallen to the ground. Double bagging trash to keep the odor from traveling was another recommendation, along with keeping dog food containers inside.

The Castle Pines City Council enjoyed the presentation and asked the students to create a slideshow which will be used as an educational tool. Tweed and his group will be making a diagram of their trash cans as a do-it-yourself project. Tweed stated, “The city council wants us to work with a graphic designer on the PowerPoint presentation and the diagram. My group and I are excited that we can actually do something outside of the classroom!”

Tweed’s zoology instructor Jessica Muniz commented, “The purpose of this project in my zoology classes was to get students thinking about the many problems animals face in Colorado.  They brainstormed the many problems, chose one of interest, and then researched and developed their own solutions, or ways to make current solutions better, like this bear presentation group.  In the end, students learned about animals, their problems, ways to help, and how to be better stewards of this planet!”

To learn more about bear safety, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at

As part of their bear safety presentation to city council, these RCHS students demonstrated how to properly lock garbage cans to prevent bears from getting into them.

Photos courtesy of Melina DePasse

Fewer than two weeks before these photos were taken near Buffalo Ridge Elementary School, three RCHS teens gave a presentation to city council as part of a school project proposing a potential solution and protection system to prevent bears from getting into garbage cans.

Photo courtesy of Ron Hanavan, DCSO

This is the time of year when the bears are stocking up on food and preparing for their hibernation. In order to survive the months of inactivity, a bear must gain a lot of weight – roughly 40 pounds of body fat per week prior to hibernation. According to DCSO Public Information Officer Ron Hanavan, the bear was unharmed, but the car was not!



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