Bears awaken early this year

Brief by Central Staff

Wildlife – May 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

Blame it on happenstance, global warming, or the development of an “early to rise” work ethic. Whatever the cause, it appears that Colorado’s black bears are getting up earlier this year.

Often they don’t emerge from their dens until late in April, but in early March, they were raiding trash receptacles in Crested Butte, and state wildlife officials say they have received reports of early sightings from many mountain towns.

When bears first emerge from hibernation, they spend several weeks in a groggy state that biologists call “walking hibernation.” They don’t actively feed or drink, and move about for only short periods of time while their systems adjust to wakefulness.

Then they get busy, which means that humans in bear country need to be careful with their trash, storing it indoors and putting it out only right before pickup. Washing containers with ammonia is recommended, as it’s an odor bears don’t like.

There are many more suggestions in a DOW brochure, “Living with Wildlife in Bear Country,” which is available at any DOW office.