Please scare the bears; honk, lock first floor doors, windows
In the friendly, small-town atmosphere of Steamboat Springs, some locals do not look highly upon people honking their vehicle horns unnecessarily, but in this case, Colorado Parks and Wildlife educators say honk as much as possible at local bears.
CPW Bear Aware program coordinator Christy Bubenheim said she does not mind if people carefully pull over their vehicles and take photos of a bear from a safe distance, but then the people should always honk their horns to keep local bears from becoming habituated to people. Banging pots and pans is another method to help keep bears more fearful of humans.
“Make that bear uncomfortable to save the life of that bear,” Bubenheim advised.
Despite more moisture this spring and early summer, bear encounter calls are still high in Routt County currently, including an increase in the number of bears going into the lower level of homes through unlocked doors and windows. CPW has received six to eight calls from residents in the Indian Trails neighborhood west of downtown Steamboat Springs of bears going inside homes.
“We’ve had an extremely busy bear season thus far in Routt County,” Bubenheim said. “The big thing that’s been happening more so than I have ever seen is bears getting into homes through open windows and unlocked doors all over the county. We really need people to start securing their windows and doors and remind folks that screens do not hinder a bear from going into a home.”
The local Bear Aware community educator program will host a free training for volunteers from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the CPW office at 925 Weiss Dr. in south Steamboat. The Bear Aware program was developed by this year’s Leadership Steamboat class and currently has 12 volunteers, but more volunteers are needed. Bubenheim would prefer to have one volunteer from each neighborhood or section of the community across the county.
“We need people to step up in their neighborhoods and be a bear advocate in their neighborhood,” Bubenheim said.
Some of the neighborhoods with recent bear activity include Heritage Park where a bear got into an open garage, and Riverside where a bear got into trash. Other bear encounters have been in the neighborhoods of Tree Haus, White Cotton, Pamela Lane, Whistler Park, Walton Creek and along County Road 44 north of Bob Adams Airport.
CPW and Bear Aware volunteers staff a booth every other Saturday at the Farmers Market in Steamboat, which next falls on July 23. Keep Bears Wild T-shirts made by Ohana are available for sale at the booth and help fundraise for the group.
“The big thing is people like to share their stories with their bear interactions, and we go from there about what was handled correctly and what was handled incorrectly,” Bubenheim said.
One recent visitor at the Bear Aware tent wondered why bears were still coming into his yard since he brings his bird feeders in each night. Educators explained that spilled bird seed under feeders is still an ursine attractant, and the homeowner was advised to stop using bird feeders at all with bears in the area.
“We’ve got bears in neighborhoods about the county where people don’t typically see bear activity,” Bubenheim said.
Bubenheim encourages any property owners who do not yet use an approved bear-resistant trash container to contact their trash hauler. Bear-resistant residential or commercial trash carts have been distributed to many areas of Steamboat and need to be checked with each use to make sure the lids latch securely.
For questions about becoming a Bear Aware volunteer, contact Bubenheim at 970-870-2197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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