Recent Aspen-area maulings underscore seriousness of warnings
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — State and federal resource managers are making a late-summer push to minimize potentially dangerous encounters between people and bears by focusing on education and outreach.
“National Forests are bear country,” White River National Forest officials said in a press relase. “It’s their home and we are the visitors. Whether camping or hiking on a National Forest, in the front country or in the back country; if you are doing it on National Forest System lands, you are in bear country and need to be prepared to share the forest with the bears.”
Local information for Summit County will be offered Sept. 8 during a Bear Aware session at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge at 6:30 p.m.
State wildlife officials are asking people to report encounters as soon as possible.
“If anyone has a serious conflict with wildlife, they should report it to Colorado Parks and Wildlife immediately,” said Mike Porras, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We have had too many recent incidents where we receive reports about a wildlife conflict several days after it occurs. When too much time has elapsed, it limits our management options.”
Wildlife managers explained that bears are actively searching for food right now. In the next few weeks, they need to bulk up their fat reserves as they prepare for winter. At the same time, people are still recreating in large numbers and as we move into hunting season there will be even more campers in dispersed areas of the forest.
The best way to minimize the possibility of an adverse encounter with a bear is to take appropriate precautions in bear country.
· Bears have a keen sense of smell and are very curious. Any strange odor will attract a bear.
· Bears are opportunity feeders; they go to the easy food sources.
· Bears are easily habituated; once they equate food with a particular object, odor or place, they will keep coming back for more. Females will teach their cubs these lessons.
· Once habituated, bears can become very aggressive when searching for food.
· When in bear country, think about “attractants” and not just food. An attractant is anything that emits an odor; food and food packaging, toiletries, medications, cooking equipment and eating utensils, stoves and stove fuel along with other petroleum products, and the clothing you were wearing while cooking and eating. If it emits an odor, it is an attractant.
· If camping in the front country where you will have access to your automobile, store your attractants (all of your attractants including trash) in the automobile or hard sided camper when not in use.
· Properly clean and dispose of food containers. Do not burn out containers. Do not leave empty food containers lying around your camp.
· The fire ring is an attractant itself if it is used for cooking. It is important to burn only wood or paper and to pack out all food containers, foil and food waste.
· Strain waste water for food waste and then dispose of it at least 100 feet away from the sleeping area by dispersing it onto vegetation. Do not pour it all in one spot. Do not pour it into the fire ring.
· When traveling in the back country, handle food and food waste carefully. Pack out your food waste along with other trash. Use plastic storage bags to pack all attractants and use empty bags for trash and food waste. Pack It In – Pack It Out!
· Bring a large stuff sack for use as a bear bag and adequate rope for hanging your bear bag. Bear bags should be hung between two trees at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the trunk of the trees.
· In each camp, establish a bear triangle, separating food preparation and eating area, attractant storage areas and sleeping areas by at least 100 feet from each other and where possible, establish your sleeping area up wind of the cooking area. In heavily used back country campsites, consider utilizing a common cooking and eating area well away from all tent sites.
· Do not eat near or in your tent.
· Do not take any attractant into your tent at any time.
· Change into sleeping cloths near your attractant storage area and leave your day clothing in the bear bag.
· Consider carrying a bear proof storage container for your attractants. In some areas these are required by special regulation. If camping in a campground where bear proof storage boxes are provided by the agency, always use them. They are there for a reason.
· While nothing is 100 percent effective, bear sprays and air horns have proven to be successful in deterring bears in many situations.
· Above all, consult with local managers while still in the trip planning stages so you can plan for local conditions and regulations.
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, wildlife Tagged: | bear attacks Colorado, bears, camping in bear country, Summit County News, White River National Forest, wildlife