Posted: Aug 30, 2011 6:29 PM by Stephanie Collins
Updated: Aug 30, 2011 8:32 PM
The number of bear sightings is up this year in Southern Colorado, with that the number that has been killed is also up.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife says in El Paso and Teller counties about 18 have been killed and in Fremont County that number is 12. Farther south in Pueblo, Huerfano, Custer and Las Animas counties, it's a much higher number, approximately 40 bears have been killed. They've either been put down, killed by a car or a landowner.
Why have so many bears died? Parks and Wildlife says the dry spring we had has made their natural food sources scarce. So this year their search for food is getting them into trouble, and when they create trouble, they have to be put down, "First and foremost, it's always a matter of public safety. Is this bear going to be a public safety threat? That ultimately will drive the decision," explains Michael Seraphin with Parks and Wildlife.
Bears usually have a two strike policy, but if they're caught killing livestock, or going into a home, it's more likely that they'll be put down, "They've learned a behavior and that behavior makes them a threat to public safety," Seraphin adds.
The number of bears killed, south of El Paso County, is particularly high. Parks and Wildlife attributes that number to even drier weather and a higher number of run-ins between bears and livestock, "Just about as many bears as we've had to move, we've had to put down, a lot of depredating bears this year," says Seraphin.
You can help keep bears alive, by keeping them away from you. Secure your trash and put away pet food and bird feeders, bottom line, don't feed the bears.
Bear activity will just continue to pick up as we approach fall. They'll start eating up to 20 hours per day to get ready for hibernation.
If you come across an aggressive bear, Parks and Wildlife says slowly back away, make loud noises, and don't make any sudden movements. Once you're safe, call them.