Black bears have started to emerge from hibernation during the past couple weeks, and Durango-area residents should be aware of these facts and helpful tips as they become active:
Males tend to leave dens first, followed by females and cubs. Cubs are born around late January and are about the size of a volleyball when they leave the den.Bears move to lower elevations after hibernation in search of green, nutritious grasses and vegetation and will consume 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day. Black bears are aware of habitats with abundant food sources, both natural and human-provided, which often brings them into close proximity with people and homes.Residents should remove anything that might attract bears – remove or relocate bird feeders, secure trash in bear-resistant containers, feed pets indoors and secure livestock feed and grains. People should also remove food, drinks, pet food, trash or other odors that attract bears from their vehicles because of an increase in vehicle break-ins by bears in recent years.Unwanted bear activity is learned behavior, so discouraging vehicle or home break-ins can help prevent property damage and bear deaths.For bear attractants that cannot be easily moved or contained, proper electric fencing is effective for residents who need to protect chickens, beehives, livestock, compost or fruit trees (later in the season). Electric fencing should have at least three strands and deliver a minimum of 6,000 volts.Bear Smart Durango will help residents contain or remove bear attractants from their properties and provide bear-resistant containers on loan until a permanent solution is found. Electric fencing materials and assistance with design and installation for small-scale backyard operations also is available. Colorado Parks and Wildlife also can assist with electric fencing. For more information, call 247-0855.It is required by both city and La Plata County code that residential and commercial trash be inaccessible to bears and other wildlife and that bear-resistant trash receptacles be locked at all times other than the morning of trash collection. Businesses within the city limits should contact Durango Code Enforcement at 375-4930 for more information about bear-resistant dumpsters and grease receptacles, and businesses in the county should contact their waste hauler.For more information, call Bryan Peterson at 749-4262 or visit www.bearsmartdurango.org.