With multiple reports of bear sightings near Steamboat recently, it’s important to be aware of what to do in the event of a bear encounter. In early spring, bears usually find sources of natural food, but when food becomes scarce, some bears will go to residential areas looking for a meal. Bear and human conflicts tend to increase around mid-summer, but you can take simple precautions now to avoid conflicts with bears at your home and in your neighborhood. A comprehensive list of the steps to take to help avoid bear encounters is available below.
Here is a list that will help keep bears wild:
Around the house
- Keep garbage in a well-secured location.
- Only put out garbage on the morning of pickup.
- Clean garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free. The scent of ammonia can deter bears.
- Use a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These are available from your trash hauler or on Internet sites.
- Bears have an excellent sense of smell, so try to prevent odors. If you don’t have secure storage, put items that might become smelly into the freezer until trash day.
- Keep garage doors closed.
- Lock your doors when you’re away from home and at night.
- Keep the bottom floor windows of your house closed when you’re not at home.
- Clean-up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck. Don’t allow food odors to linger.
- Talk to your neighbors and kids about being bear aware.
- Do not attract other wildlife by feeding them.
- Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside.
- Bird feeders are a major source of bear/human conflicts. Attract birds naturally with flowers and water baths. Do not hang bird feeders from April 15 to Nov. 15.
- If you must have bird feeders: clean up beneath them every day, bring them in at night, and hang them high so that they’re completely inaccessible to bears.
- Bears have good memories and will return to places they’ve found food.
- Allow grills to burn for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors. Clean the grill after each use.
- If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to rot on the ground.
- Secure compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food — and they’ll eat almost anything.
- If you keep small livestock, keep animals in a fully covered enclosure, don’t store food outside, keep enclosures clean to minimize odors, hang rags soaked in ammonia around the enclosure.
- If you have bee hives, install electric fencing where allowed.
- Do not keep food in your vehicle; roll up windows and lock the doors of your vehicles.
- When car-camping, secure all food and coolers in a locked vehicle after you’ve eaten.
- Keep a clean camp, whether you’re in a campground or in the back-country.
- When camping in the back-country, hang food 100 feet or more from campsite.
- Don’t bring any food or fragrant items into your tent
- Cook food well away from your tent; wash dishes thoroughly.