BOULDER — Black bears are on the move in populated areas, causing problems in cities and towns up and down Colorado's Front Range, and activists say improperly stored household garbage is a big part of the problem.
Authorities have killed around three dozen bears causing problems in Colorado this year. No bears have been removed or killed in Boulder this year, but there has been plenty of bear activity in and near town lately, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.
One bear spent the better part of a day in a tree downtown. Another bear entered a campsite and bit a man while he slept.
"We're just waiting for a crisis to happen," Brenda Lee of the Boulder Bear Coalition told the City Council recently. "That's either going to be a person getting hurt or a bear being put down."
Overturned garbage cans are a sure sign bears are active, she said.
Lee is an advocate for enforcement of the city's bear-safe ordinance, which requires bear-resistant containers for trash and compost bins.
"It seemed like things were going fine," she said. "But I'm seeing tons this year that I didn't see last year — cans knocked over, looking down alleys where you see three or five cans that have trash strewn out from them."
Between 2003 and 2015, authorities killed or removed 40 black bears causing problems in Boulder. City officials have stepped up garbage-storage enforcement, handing out $250,000 in fines over the second half of 2016.