Community Agriculture Alliance: Routt County’s bear season has arrived
We are fortunate our community can produce and sustain a number of healthy and valuable food sources, including chickens, sheep, calves, pigs, goats and honey. Unfortunately, along with unsecured trash, bird feeders and pet food left outdoors, livestock also can be become attractants for bears.
With a nose 100 times more sensitive than a human’s, it does not take much to get the attention of a hungry bear. Regrettably, that nose often leads them to easy, human-provided meals, whether it’s a chicken coop, trash can, cooler, pet food left inside a vehicle or even a compost pile. Because bears have great memories, once they receive a food reward from humans, they will likely lose their natural fear of people and return in search of more.
It’s unfortunate, but a bear that is comfortable near people often ends up dead, either from road collisions, electrocutions on a utility pole, landowners protecting livestock or a wildlife manager acting to protect human health and safety.
To prevent losses and conflicts with bears, Colorado Parks and Wildlife strongly encourages people to take preventative measures, including using certified, bear-resistant trashcans and installing electric fences. CPW is available to recommend the most appropriate methods for keeping bears out of your livestock or trash.
CPW officers use a variety of tools to deter bears, including non-lethal ammunition, tasers and pyrotechnics, however, these tactics must be coupled with the removal of attractants to be entirely effective.
The containers provided by trash services, free of charge, with clips and latching mechanisms, have proven ineffective at keeping local bears out. Trashcans certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee are an extremely efficient way to ensure bears do not receive food rewards at your residence.
Check with your local trash providers to purchase the certified bear-resistant trash can they prefer.
In an attempt to minimize the financial burden of purchasing certified, bear-resistant trash receptacles, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is actively searching for financial solutions. The concept of a revolving loan fund emerged as a possibility after constructive discussions with the local branch of Alpine Bank. The concept would give locals an affordable option to rent-to-own a certified, bear-resistant trash can.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is currently seeking a nonprofit organization to manage the revolving loan fund and process financing applications. If your nonprofit organization is interested, contact the CPW office in Steamboat Springs at 970-870-2197.
Remember, keeping bear-human conflicts to a minimum requires the efforts of everyone in the community, including residents, businesses and those who keep urban livestock.
Call CPW if you have questions about preventing conflicts, or visit the bear page on our website at cpw.state.co.us/bears.
Andrea Sponseller serves as district wildlife manager for Steamboat South Area 10 in Steamboat Springs.
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