Bear Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Take the "Bears in Boulder" community survey.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife has provided this list of Frequently Asked Questions in response to questions about bear management in the City of Boulder. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife is responsible for the direct management of all wildlife in the state.
The land surrounding Boulder including Open Space and Mountain Parks, U.S. Forest Service property, Boulder County Open Space properties and the mountain subdivisions all provide excellent habitat for bears.
Food is found in the form of garbage, compost, bird seed, barbeque grills, pet food, and fruit from trees (See Q. 9).
There is an abundance of water from various creeks, ditches, ponds and backyard water features (fountains and ponds). Bear sightings are most numerous west of Broadway, but it is not uncommon for bears to be seen in the east part of Boulder.
No. All bears in Colorado are black bears, regardless of whether the coat is black, brown, blond or cinnamon-colored. The last confirmed grizzly bear in Colorado was seen in 1979.
There is no simple way to keep bears out of the city. Because abundant high-quality habitat exists in the City of Boulder, there will always be bears in town to some extent. In some cases, bears in Boulder may be relocated, though this often is not an ideal solution. Young bears may be somewhat more likely to stay in the area they are moved to. There are, as of yet, no proven techniques to exclude bears from large areas like Boulder, though minimizing human attractants and food sources will help.
The CPW has a "two-strike" policy under which bears may be tranquilized, ear-tagged and relocated once if they are in an inappropriate location (e.g. too far into town), or they have engaged in episode(s) of "nuisance" behavior (multiple visits to town, light property damage, etc.). If that same bear has to be physically dealt with again (tranquilized or trapped due to inappropriate location or nuisance behavior), the bear is put down. Bears that pose a public safety risk will be put down regardless of whether they have ear tags or not.
The response from the CPW will depend on a variety of factors such as location, time of day, history of the bear in town, whether the bear is already ear-tagged (see question 4), and behavior. In these cases, the CPW will educate the neighborhood about bear attractants, often via media releases, volunteers going door-to-door and posting signs.
Hazing of bears in town is also encouraged (using air horns, banging pots and pans, yelling) in order to make the bear feel uncomfortable around humans. If the bear is in a location where it can be left unbothered, the CPW will often notify immediate neighbors and leave it alone, or leave it with a city or CPW "bear-sitter" who can keep an eye on the bear and notify neighbors when the bear moves. That bear will often move back onto Open Space on its own, usually after dark.
Capturing the bear is a last resort, and will only be attempted if less-intensive management options are not effective or appropriate. If the bear has not been captured before, it will be ear-tagged and relocated. If the bear is already ear-tagged, it will be put down. Bears considered to be a public safety risk will not be relocated, but will be put down regardless of whether they are ear-tagged or not.
To educate yourself and everyone in your house about bears and how to reduce attractants on your property and in your neighborhood. A great place to start is on the CPW website.
The CPW recommends that children be supervised when outside in bear, lion and coyote habitat. The risk of injury or death to humans, including children, from bears, is low. Teach your children to be aware of wildlife and what to do if they encounter wildlife.
An easy acronym to remember is SMART:
S – Stop, do not run.
M – Make yourself look big.
A – Announce "Leave me alone!"
R – Retreat – back away slowly.
T – Tell an adult.
Practicing scenarios ahead of time can better prepare children for an unexpected encounter with wildlife, including bears. Bears do not usually bother pets or target them as food items, and are often afraid of dogs.
Containing food items and other smelly attractants is the best way to reduce the chances that bears will show interest in your property. When bears successfully seek out human food sources, it increases the chances they will repeatedly come into the City of Boulder to forage. Garbage and compost should be kept in a shed or garage until the morning of pickup, or kept in a bear-resistant trash container so that the bear will not be able to access the food items.
Birdfeeders should either be removed from April to November, or hung in such a manner that you are certain the bear cannot access it. Pet food should not be left outside and should be removed as soon as your pet has finished eating. Barbeque grills should be stored in a garage, or be cleaned thoroughly after each use. The fruit trees that grow in many parts of west Boulder can serve as an attractant to bears from mid-summer into the fall.
The CPW recommends that residents pick up fallen fruit on a regular basis and reconsider the planting of new fruit trees. Residentscan also pick fruit on trees to further minimize attractants.
Backyard ponds can serve as an attractant to bears, particularly in the hotter months. Residents concerned about bears near their property should consider draining these ponds.
Reducing attractants to bearsis a community effort, and talking with your neighbors about the importance of keeping attractants contained will benefit both people and bears.
Bears are generally most active at dusk, throughout the night, and into the dawn hours. This is often when they are foraging and moving around. However, it is not unusual or abnormal to see bears in the middle of the day.
In the fall months, bears need to feed up to 20 hours a day to prepare for hibernation. Hibernation dates can vary depending on the weather, available food sources, and the individual bear, but bears generally will enter hibernation in mid-late November and emerge in early-mid April.
Bears are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of plant and animal materials. Human food sources include garbage, compost, bird seed, food from barbeque grills, pet food left outside, and fruit from trees. Bears are frequent visitors because all of these attractants exist within Boulder.
The CPW doesn't feed bears outside of Boulder during difficult years because it does not solve the problem of bears coming into town and doing so is bad for the bears. Natural food is difficult, but it is not impossible, to find. Feeding bears reduces their motivation and ability to find food which may cause bears to become dependent on artificial feeding stations for survival.
A single habitat can only support a certain number of bears in a given year. If the CPW were to artificially increase the availability of food for bears around Boulder by feeding them, it would artificially increase local bear populations through a higher breeding success rate and lower mortality.
During the last several decades there have been three fatalities and 37 incidents in which a person was injured by a black bear in Colorado. Many of these incidents involved the bear either being intentionally fed or being unintentionally habituated to people.There are many things you can do to lower risk of injury from bears including removing any attractants around your home and being alert and aware when recreating in any forest, park, or open space area.
Many times what appears to be aggressive behavior of bears is more likely defensive behavior.
When they feel threatened, defensive bears will:
Aggressive behavior is rare in black bears. Examples of aggressive behavior would be if a bear, despite having easy ways to escape, approached people or if a bear entered a tent and injured someone.
For general bear information, including advice for living with bears, call the:
• Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227 or visit www.wildlife.state.co.us/bears.
To report sightings within the City of Boulder, call the:
• Boulder Police non-emergency number at 303-441-3333; or
• Colorado Parks and Wildlife (during business hours) at 303-291-7227.
Call 911 in the event of an immediate human safety issue, or if a human or pet is injured by any wildlife.
You can call anytime to report sightings, knocked-over garbage cans, or property damage caused by bears. The city collects information about where bears go in the city, and what kinds of attractants draw them there, to help better address human-bear conflicts.
Within the city limits of Boulder, you can contact Western Disposal who will provide you with a bear-resistant garbage can for a fee. If you live outside the city limits or would like to purchase a bear-resistant garbage can, there is a PDF available online at: www.wildlife.state.co.us/bears - that lists some companies that sell bear-resistant garbage containers.
In some cases, the CPW will reimburse agricultural producers for damage caused by big game, including bears, to their agricultural product or means of production. The reimbursement process is governed by state statutes and regulations and does not apply to personal property, including fences, garages, cars, or most other objects that a bear might damage within the Boulder city limits.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:23