COLORADO SPRINGS— More than 20,000 black bears are coming out of hibernation this March, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). It's likely you will encounter a bear this season whether it's on a hiking trail or in your backyard.
"We live in some of their habitat and we always need to be respectful and mindful of that," said a CPW Officer Travis Sauder.
Be 'Bear Aware' and know how to protect yourself and bears.
"These bears don't look at us as a food source," said Officer Sauder.
If you come close to a bear, make your presence known. Make noise and back away slowly but never corner a bear.
Once you're at a safe distance from a bear, call CPW. Officers can help assess the situation, offer advice or come out to trap and move the bear.
There were more than 18,000 bear sighting and conflict calls to CPW between 2019 to 2022.
"In extreme cases, there are times we have to euthanize a bear and that's the worst day for any wildlife officer," said Officer Sauder.
Officer Sauder said bears are only euthanized when human safety is a concern.
Take down bird feeders and take in dog food at night, clean barbecues after each use and keep your garbage secure.
If you live west of I-25 in Colorado Springs, you must have bear resistant garbage cans.
"As long as we're doing what we should be doing as people, we can enjoy [nature] and the animals can be safe around us," said Officer Sauder.
Always carry bear spray when out exploring or keep it in your house. You can also bear proof your home. If you see a bear at your home, try to scare it off with loud noises but never get corner it.
Keep all bear-accessible windows and doors closed and locked, including home, garage and car doors. Pick fruit before it ripens, and clean up fallen fruit.
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