Remove food sources to avoid bear conflicts

by Tori Sheets

Bears are out and about in Ouray, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife partnered with the Ouray Police Department to give a special presentation covering bear behavior and management on Thursday in the Ouray Community Center.
Kelly Crane is the CPW district wildlife officer for the Ouray area. She is in charge of bear issues in Ouray, Ridgway, a small area of Montrose and half of Telluride. Crane said in the last few years human-bear conflicts have increased because of expanded human development, learned behavior and weather events.
Between 1980 and 2010 the human population of Colorado went from 2.9 million to 5 million. According to Crane, the majority of that growth expanded into areas considered good bear habitat.
Last year a late freeze in the growing season of choke cherries and acorns, caused the crops to become scarce. These are staples of a black bear's diet, so bears searched for food elsewhere. Towns provide an easy food source, and bears quickly learn where and how to find food.
"When we do have those natural food failures for bears they can become increasingly mobile and very persistent in trying to find food," Crane said.
Bears can live for 20-30 years, and they have very good memories. A bear will learn where an easy food source is and return to it even when it is captured and relocated to a different area.
The infamous three-legged bear inhabiting Ouray is an example of a bear returning to an easy food source....


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