Being Bear Aware
One of the most enjoyable aspects of living in Aspen is the ease of access to nature. The close proximity also gives many animals easy access to the city. As Aspen dwellers, we must live responsibly in this place in order to facilitate safe urban/wildlife interactions.
In September, bear activity goes into hyperdrive. Bears will begin hibernating in late October/early November, so now is their final push to gain as much weight as possible. This time of year, bears feed for up to 20 hours per day, hoping to consume at least 20,000 calories before heading into a hibernation that may last 7 months. In fall, bear encounters in town are not uncommon, especially after a dry winter and summer that yielded low crops of berries and other natural food sources. Bears will eat almost anything, which is why we must be so careful.
How can Aspenites be more bear friendly? I'm glad you asked:
- Obviously, do not feed bears!
- Safely dispose of trash in bear proof trashcans. If unavailable, do not move trash out for pickup until immediately before garbage truck arrives (Since June 1, 2010 the city of Aspen has required residents to utilize bear-resistant containers for "day of" pick-up.)
- Store pet food indoors
- Do not use bird feeders from March to November. Or, hang bird feeders in a bear-inaccessible location like off of a strategically hung wire, instead of from a tree (easy pickings for a black bear)
- Do not leave food in your car and be sure to lock your car doors
- Keep your dog on a leash
- When camping, store food properly in bear canisters or bags far from campsite
- Do not leave marinated steak on your porch for weeks on end...
- Bears are wild animals, but they will make use of any food source they can find. When bears find an easy food source in town, they quickly become habituated, thus endangering themselves and potentially the community. Bears associating food with humans, trashcans or towns causes the overwhelming majority of conflicts. Please do your part to help!
To learn more about how to live "Bear Aware" visit these two helpful sites:
~ Charlie Oshinsky