Bears are out and about in Colorado getting ready for hibernation -- what YOU need to know

A bear climbs a tree in Teller County.
A bear climbs a tree in Teller County.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 9:21 AM MDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 9:38 AM MDT
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DIVIDE, Colo. (KKTV) - They’re here, they’re there, and they are hungry.

The next few weeks are prime dining time for bears, who are making that last big push to get hibernation-ready.

“They are foraging 20 out of 24 hours a day to pack on that weight over winter. They are eating 20,000 calories per day, about 1,000 per hour,” a Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer told 11 News in a September 2018 report.

What that means for you: bear sightings could become a lot more frequent. Viewer Mandy in Divide saw a mama and a cub just another day climbing a tree.

Don't be surprised to see more sightings like these over the next few weeks!

Earlier in the week, a bear hunkered under a porch in Colorado Springs, forcing wildlife officers to fire a Taser and shoot paintballs to scare it off. Though that sounds mean, wildlife officers say encouraging bears to run away on their own versus tranquilizing them allows them to avoid earning a “strike.” Under Colorado Parks and Wildlife policy, two strikes for a bear would result in it being put down. It’s critical for bears’ own protection that they are scared of people and try to avoid them.

The best thing we can do to help bears get their chub on safely is to keep our neighborhoods from becoming an all-you-can-eat bear buffet. Lock your trash cans up -- and make sure they’re bear-proof on those days when you do need to leave them out -- put away food sources like bird feeders, keep bear-accessible windows and doors locked up, and avoid leaving trash, coolers or anything that in your vehicle that has an odor, as that could potentially attract bears. More information from Colorado Parks and Wildlife can be found here.

A black bear’s typical diet consists of grasses, berries, fruits, nuts, plants, and sometimes insects or scavenged carcasses. People food is not bear food, and it’s critical bears never develop a taste for it. Human-bear interactions can end in tragedy, like this sad case in 2019 when a bear wandered into a northwest Springs home while the residents were cooking breakfast. The bear already had a strike against it from previously being relocated out of the city, and was ultimately euthanized.

“Most conflicts between people and bears can be traced to easily accessible human food, garbage, birdseed or other attractants. A bear’s natural drive to eat can overcome its wariness of humans. Bears that get too comfortable around people can learn to open doors, destroy property or even become aggressive towards humans,” CPW said at the time.

If a bear wanders on your property like the ones Mandy saw in Teller County and is keeping to itself, give it space and let it be. CPW says they never want to have intervene with a bear simply living its life, and that the bear will typically leave on its own when it feels ready.

Most bears begin hibernating by November, though CPW says it’s not unheard of for city-dwelling bears to pop in and out of hibernation on warmer winter days.

Enjoy seeing our bears out and about -- the wildlife is part of the magic of living in Colorado.

Just be good a neighbor!