DOW: 'A fed bear is a dead bear'

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— No. Your eyes aren't fooling you. Routt County's black bears are emerging from hibernation one month earlier than last year, Colorado Division of Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Justin Pollock said.

"We didn't get sightings until about mid-April last year," he said. "But it's been so much nicer."

And, not surprisingly, the bears are emerging hungry,

"We hope they don't find a quick, easy meal in town because then we have a problem," Pollock said. "We have a saying: 'A fed bear is a dead bear.'"

People are reminded to store their garbage in bear-proof containers or place it inside a Dumpster. Leaving garbage outside overnight is easy picking for bears, Pollock said. Pet food containers, bird feeders and grills also are popular feeding spots for bears in the early spring, he said.

Usually, bears feed on carrion when they first emerge from hibernation because there are a number of dead animals available that did not survive winter, Pollock said. The bears will switch to grasses as temperatures warm and snow melts.

"They aren't too picky," he said. "They'll eat about everything."

Pollock said it's not necessary for residents to call the DOW for bears roaming through town because that's typical and not dangerous to the animal. If residents see others feeding bears or bears diving in trash receptacles, knocking things over or tinkering with bird feeders, they should call the DOW.

"We want to know about problem bears," Pollock said.

Traditionally, black bears are not threatening to people.

This spring, bears have been spotted at the Steamboat Ski Area and in town.

Don't feed the bears, and don't provoke them, Pollock advised.

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