Be careful of Colorado's wild critters this summer


STATEWIDE – Bears, moose and baby critters ? oh my!

Wildlife is active on many fronts at this time of year, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding state residents to be bear aware, to be cautious in moose habitat, and to leave young wildlife alone.

Every year people who think young wildlife have been abandoned pick them up and bring them to a CPW office. Unfortunately, that’s the worst thing you can do for wildlife. Wildlife mothers will often leave their young in a secluded spot then move away to feed and build their own nutritional reserves. Those who see a small fawn or other animal on its own, please, leave it alone and allow nature to take its course.

The moose population in Colorado is doing well, but these large mammals can be dangerous if folks get too close. Moose favor wetland areas and are often seen in expansive mountain meadows ? areas that are also attractive to hikers and bikers. If folks see a moose in an area, it’s advised that they observe the animal from a distance and not try to get close. Moose are especially wary of dogs and will not hesitate to charge them. Those who are hiking with their dogs should keep them on a leash and be prepared to pick them up if encountering a moose. If a moose advances, move quickly to hide or get behind a large object like a tree, rocks or a vehicle.

Bears are always coming in contact with people during the summer; but because weather has been very dry recently typical natural food sources aren’t as available as in the last couple of years. Consequently, some bears are finding sources of food in residential areas and causing conflicts. Bears have broken into houses, gotten into garages, entered structures through windows, gotten into vehicles, and have been seen in campgrounds.

To reduce the chances of coming into conflict with bears, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers this list of tips that will help to keep bears wild:

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 trash haulers or on Internet sites.

Bears have an excellent sense of smell, so try to prevent odors. Those who don’t have secure storage should put items that might become smelly into the freezer until trash day.

Keep garage doors closed.

Lock doors when away from home and at night.

Keep the bottom floor windows of the house closed when  not at home.

Clean up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck. Don’t allow food odors to linger.

Talk to neighbors and kids about being bear aware.

Minimize items that attract bears or other wildlife

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.

Those with fruit trees should pick the 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.

Those with 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.

Those with beehives, install electric fencing where allowed.

Be careful with vehicles and at campsites

Do not keep food in a vehicle; roll up windows and lock the doors of the vehicles.

When car-camping, secure all food and coolers in a locked vehicle after eating.

Keep a clean camp, whether in a campground or in the backcountry.

When camping in the back-country, hang food 100 feet or more from the campsite.

Don’t bring any food or fragrant items into the tent

Cook food well away from the tent; wash dishes thoroughly.

For more information go to the Living with Wildlife section on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife web site: cpw.state.co.us.

Caption: This is what the inside of a car looks like that was destroyed by a bear. Bears are active across the state. Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks everyone to be bear aware. Courtesy photo

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