COLORADO SPRINGS — Bear protection groups across the state are banding together to protect black bears.
As human-bear conflicts continue, the newly formed Colorado Bear Coalition is looking to collaborate with city officials and wildlife managers to strengthen bear protection efforts.
"Our goal is to increase efforts to reduce human-bear conflicts and to have some consistency as well. There's a lot of things that need to happen to reduce trash and that's working with the city, county, and trash haulers. There's a lot that has to happen on the boots on the ground level," said Brenda Lee Co-founder and President of the Colorado Bear Coalition.
She says it will also be important to educate the community on how to prevent human-bear conflicts to ensure bears stay out of town before they get into trouble.
"What food is available for the bears? That's unsecured trash, bird feeders (including hummingbird feeders), and chickens. They don't tend to eat meat like goats or chickens but they're opportunistic so they will so put electric fencing around livestock. So really thinking about if you have a pond in your backyard that the baby cubs love to play in, is that an attractant and I've seen that before and having tree foliage that's really low so they can hide under," said Lee.
The coalition will also work with communities to create ordinances for cities with a high number of human-bear conflicts. As well as work with state officials to create new laws.
"There are policy changes within each small city because, without enforcement, you just need everyone doing the right thing. So creating a policy that says you can not attract bears and enforcing that. That's on the state level, as far as a state-level ordinance, there are a lot of people within the Colorado Bear Coalition that would like to see that," said Lee.
"Bear sightings and conflicts in the greater El Paso and Teller County region has been pretty average compared to previous years. It's very natural food dependent on the number of conflicts that we see," said Cody Wigner, Colorado Springs Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Human-bear conflicts can range anywhere from a sighting all the way to bears in houses. In very rare occasions, bear attacks."
Wigner encourages the community to bear aware, and be sure to secure their trash either with a bear-resistant trash container or locked garage.
"If you don't have a bear-resistant trash can, make sure you're putting your trash out on the morning of pick-up and getting it in as soon as possible. Also, keeping that trash can clear of any food odors that are going into it," said Wigner.
He says the agency continues with efforts to educate the community on the issue.
"Going into schools doing school programs, canvassing neighbors, and things like that. We also work with the community, get with tasks force to get ordinances passed to require bear-resistant trash containers," said Wigner.
Lee hopes the coalition will be able to help local agencies and reduce the number of tags and euthanizations.
"See the reduction of handling of bears. Whether a bear is tagged and relocated to the mountains because that is not a solution," said Lee.
For those who have a bear group or would just like to know more, contact the organization on their website.