Steamboat Springs Local residents should try to "bear" keeping their trash inside or covered tightly during springtime, because it's time for their hungry neighbors to wake up from their hibernation, stretch and begin searching for food.
For local residents who haven't been keeping their eyes on their trash over the winter, this is one of the best times to start thinking about getting into that habit, Colorado Division of Wildlife Area Manager Libbie Miller said.
"This is a good time for us to alter their behavior patterns," Miller said.
As many know, some local bears follow drainages down from the woods to feed from garbage cans. Usually, the bears develop a route that they remember and check frequently.
The DOW suggests that people should keep their trash indoors or covered in a bear-proof container at all times because a diet of trash is not healthy for the animals. It is also not healthy for the bear to get dependent on humans for food. They pass the trait down to their cubs, who then don't learn to eat in the wild, Miller said.
Protecting your trash can be even more imperative in the spring, when the bears begin to create their eating routine for the year, Miller said.
"If we can control the garbage situation early on, they'll go elsewhere," Miller said.
Bears already have been spotted out of their dens at the Steamboat Ski Resort, Miller said.
It will take a few weeks for their digestive system to be prepared for normal feeding, she said. But when that happens, they will be looking for food.
Last year, the DOW knew of about seven bears that made trips to town, Miller said. Old Town, the Conifer subdivision and the Brooklyn area of town are spots that have high bear sightings, she said.
Last year, one was shot by the DOW because it was sick and two others were killed by hunters, she said.
The DOW expects to have four or five returning bears this year.
"It's valuable for us to get an idea of how many bears are out there and the areas they are visiting," Miller said.
Anyone who sees a bear should report it to the DOW at 870-2197.
If it's an emergency, people should call the Routt County Sheriff's Office at 879-1090.