Robin Stone: Living with bears
I would like to share my experience in actually “living with bears” for over 40 years (Coexisting with Bears) in a beautiful mountain area similar to Steamboat Springs.
Over 40 years ago, our California community began to have bears in the neighborhoods raiding the trash cans. Bear proof trash cans were tried, but after several years it became apparent that merely using a bear proof trash can did not work. Everyone in our community now has a thick metal trash can shed (cemented into the ground) by the road into which regular trash cans are placed. Unlike a bear proof trash can, which a bear can pull apart or move, the cemented metal trash can shed really is bear proof. It is also expensive.
However, once everyone had a truly bear-proof, cemented, metal trash can shed, the bears began to enter homes through windows left open or ajar because it was easier. So everyone began to lock their windows and doors. Once everyone had locked their houses up tight, the bears began to break into the homes because they could still smell the food. So people began to electrify their homes. Now, the bears break into the nonelectrified homes. Likely, within the next decade, everyone will have electrified their homes at significant expense. Then what?
I do not know the answer, but I do know that my experience for the past 40 years in California may be a guide as to what will happen in Steamboat Springs over the next 40 years. Plain and simple — bears go where the food is. And, importantly, they go for the easiest food to access no matter where it may be.
Can Colorado use the California experience to find a better answer? A bear-proof trash can may be a step, but it is not a solution.
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