Bears Becoming Increasingly Active in Colorado’s San Luis Valley
Bear activity is picking up in the San Luis Valley and Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds residents to help keep bears wild.
“There are bears throughout the valley. We urge everyone to be bear aware so that we can avoid conflicts,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for the San Luis Valley.
A recent incident in the Baca Grande subdivision on the east side of the valley serves as a reminder to people who own livestock that they need to take precautions to keep their animals safe. In the incident, two goats in the subdivision were injured by a bear. Parks and Wildlife officers are working with the owners of the animals to explain how to build a secure enclosure for the goats. Officers also are monitoring the area for bears but no traps have been set.
“More and more people are keeping goats and chickens, but in bear habitat those animals must be kept in a safe area,” Basagoitia said. “Large livestock producers know what can happen, but people in small-scale agriculture also need to understand the hazards.”
If you own small livestock the best practice is to keep them in a barn or shed at night, that’s the time when bears and mountain lions are most active. If animals are kept in pens those should be completely covered. Electric fencing can be used as an effective enclosure. Dogs can also be a deterrent.
Parks and Wildlife officers will consult with communities, homeowner’s associations, and individuals to help with livestock protection plans.
Besides livestock owners, everyone needs to know simple bear aware practices.
“The best way to reduce conflicts is to prevent them,” Basagoitia said. “We can show you how to keep your neighborhood or property safe from bears.”
Here are some tips to help keep bears out of trouble:
- Keep garbage in a well-secured location; and only put out garbage on the morning of pickup. Clean garbage cans with ammonia regularly to keep them odor free.
- If you don’t have secure storage, put items that might become smelly into the freezer until trash day.
- Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside.
- Bird feeders should be brought in at this time of year — birds don’t need to be fed during the summer.
- If you have bird feeders: clean up beneath them, bring them in at night, and hang them high so that they’re inaccessible to bears.
- Don’t compost. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food — and they’ll eat anything.
- 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.
- If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to rot on the ground.
To talk to a wildlife officer about what you can do to help keep bears wild, call the Parks and Wildlife Monte Vista office, 719-587-6900. You can also learn more about bears and living with wildlife at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Pages/LivingWith.aspx.