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Bears Harm Themselves and People By Accessing Human Food, Wildlife Officials Say

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Colorado’s black bears are dying for human food. The Denver Post reports that at least 34 bears have been killed so far this year by wildlife managers and homeowners because the bruins had become too bold. A 2016 study by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist found that about one-fifth of bears on the West Slope and a third on the Front Range were eating human food even when enough natural foods were available. The easy availability of “people food” is leading to more conflicts between the state’s 17,000 to 20,000 bears and its human population. Recently, a bear attacked and mauled a teenage camper in Boulder County. The young man survived and the bruin was tracked down and killed. Wildlife managers urge people to remove bird feeders until after Thanksgiving, bear-proof their garbage, and make the animals feel unwelcome around homes, cars and campsites. This means blowing air horns or banging on pots and pans to drive them away rather than sitting and watching them. Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will of Glenwood Springs said in a release that bears are smart and have excellent memories. If they once succeed in getting a meal out of your trash or your home, Will said, “You just put your entire neighborhood in danger.”

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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