Wildlife officers suspect open dumpster attracted bear to neighborhood where he got stuck

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 20:22:03-04

It’s not where a bear is supposed to be. Video recorded by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers Thursday afternoon showed a mature black bear stuck in a storm drain in southwestern Colorado Springs.

"We’re not entirely sure how he got in there, but bears will work their way into town this time of year because they’re looking for food," explained Frank McGee, the Area Wildlife Manager for CPW.

The bear lifted himself free after a crew from Colorado Springs Utilities removed the manhole cover near the drain.

McGee said it was pretty easy for wildlife officers to spot what attracted him here.

"There’s a dumpster there and it had berries in it and trash in it, and again, that’s something that we’d expect to see in most of western Colorado Springs but those are the kind of things that are bringing these animals into town because they’re looking for that food source."

He explained that bears take shortcuts when they can. An open trash dumpster or a bird feeder are easy ways to get a quick snack. However, when bears depend on people for food instead of nature, bad things can happen. 

"Eventually that leads them into situations like this where they get trapped, or unfortunately, they break into a house or something else that we don’t want to see happen."

Bear activity in populated areas has been more frequent the past two summers. McGee believes that’s due partly to the fact that natural food sources are more scarce. He warns things will only going to get worse the closer we get to the fall.

"The bears are going to go into what’s called hyperphagia which means they’re going to be looking to weight for the winter when they hibernate," McGee said. "That means they’re going to be active up to 20 hours a day and they’re going to be trying to eat something like 20,000 calories a day."

It’s all the more reason for the community to become more bear aware. Homes and businesses located in neighborhoods that border wildland areas are encouraged to lock up their trash and not leave out bird feeders or pet food. When not in use, barbecue grills should be stored indoors in either a shed or a garage. 

McGee added that bears have an excellent sense of smell. He encourages people to keep their garage doors open and sliding back doors closed because the bears can smell dinner cooking.