Living With Bears On Ken-Caryl Ranch

Bear sightings at Ken-Caryl Ranch are common, both in the open space and in the neighborhoods. Encountering bears should be expected any time of the year, but they are definitely more conspicuous in the spring, late-summer and fall. Being large animals, they eat a lot. They eat just about anything, which is why the potential for a bear to visit your property is pretty good if you are inadvertently attracting them with food sources.

In order to avoid conflicts with bears (and other wildlife for that matter) remove all attractants from your property; in the case of bears this is mostly food items, i.e. dog food on the porch, trash left out on the curb overnight, birdfeeders, fruit trees, etc.

The following information, provided by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, provides good information on how to keep bears off your property and what to do if you come in contact with a bear. Remember: Every situation is different with respect to the bear, the terrain, the people and their activity.

Enjoy the woods! Hiking at dawn or dusk may increase your chances of meeting a bear. Use extra caution in places where hearing or visibility is limited: in brushy areas, near streams, where trails round a bend or on windy days. Avoid berry patches in fall. Reduce your chances of surprising a bear by making noise—talk or sing.

Make sure children are close to you or at least within your sight at all times. Leave your dog at home or have it on a leash.

Stay calm. If you see a bear and it hasn’t seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, talk aloud to let the bear discover your presence.

Stop. Back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact as bears may perceive this as a threat. Give the bear plenty of room to escape. Wild bears rarely attack people unless they feel threatened or provoked.

If on a trail, step off the trail on the downhill side and slowly leave the area. Don’t run or make any sudden movements. Running is likely to prompt the bear to give chase, and you can’t outrun a bear. Do not attempt climbing trees to escape black bears. This may stimulate the bear to follow and pull you out by the foot. Stand your ground.

Speak softly. This may reassure the bear that no harm is meant to it. Try not to show fear.

Be Cautious With Cubs. In contrast to grizzly bears, female black bears do not normally defend their cubs aggressively; but send them up trees. However, use extra caution if you encounter a female black bear with cubs. Move away from the cub; be on the lookout for other cubs.

Bears Have Great Senses. Bears use all their senses to try to identify what you are. Remember: Their eyesight is good and their sense of smell is acute. If a bear stands upright or moves closer, it may be trying to detect smells in the air. This isn’t a sign of aggression. Once it identifies you, it may leave the area or try to intimidate you by charging to within a few feet before it withdraws.

Fight back if a black bear attacks you. Black bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks, binoculars and even their bare hands. Black bears vary in size and weight, with males generally being larger than females. Adult males average 275 pounds, while the adult female may average 175 pounds. Depending on the season, food supply and gender, they may weigh anywhere from 125 to 450 pounds. Black bears measure about three feet high when on all four feet or about five feet tall standing upright.

What to Do if You Live in Bear Country

If you choose to live or have a summer home in bear country, make sure you don’t contribute to resident bears becoming ‘garbage’ bears. Most conflicts between bears and people are linked to careless handling of food or garbage. Don’t let your carelessness cause the unnecessary death of a bear. Learn to live responsibly with wildlife!

Black bears eat almost anything. They will eat human food, garbage, hummingbird food, and pet and livestock food when available. Once a bear has found the easily accessible, consistent food source that human settlements can offer, it may overcome its wariness of people and visit regularly, increasing the chance of a human/bear encounter. You and your neighbors can make a difference. Your actions may prevent the unnecessary death of a bear!

Make your property safe by keeping garbage out of reach and smell of bears. Use bear-proof trash containers. Be sure garbage cans are emptied regularly. Periodically clean garbage cans to reduce residual odor—using hot water and chlorine bleach, or by burning trash residue in cans. Store trash in a bear proof enclosure. Contact the Division of Wildlife for designs.

If you have pets, do not store their food or feed them outside. Clean your BBQ grill of grease and store inside. Hang bird seed, suet and hummingbird feeders on a wire between trees instead of on your deck or porch. Bring all bird feeders in at night. Do not put fruit, melon rinds and other tasty items in mulch or compost piles.

Ken-Caryl Ranch