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Time to prepare for visits from the bears

April 30, 2014 Updated: May 1, 2014 at 7:24 am
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photo - Three bears, including this one, were spotted in Colorado Springs Wednesday morning. Photo by Ben Vogrin.
Three bears, including this one, were spotted in Colorado Springs Wednesday morning. Photo by Ben Vogrin. 

Sightings of bears roaming backyards and rummaging through trash cans in northern Colorado Springs had residents buzzing Wednesday morning.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Abbie Walls confirmed a female bear and her two cubs were seen in the area off East Woodmen Road and East Rockrimmon Boulevard.

"We are aware of the bears and our wildlife district manager is out looking for them," Walls said.

The search for the bears was called off after several hours, but Walls said wildlife personnel would pay close attention to the area in case the bears returned.

If they were all captured, the mother and her cubs would be kept together and moved to a location far away from any populated areas.

With 10 reports of bear sightings in El Paso County so far this year, Walls said its not unusual to see bears and other wildlife in areas close to cities as spring begins. Coming out of hibernation, the bears are hungry and will find the closest food source, often in people's trash cans.

Parks officials constantly ask the public to keep any food source out of bears' reach, for everyone's protection.

"The best thing everyone can do is keep their trash locked up, or inside a garage, until the morning of trash pick up," Walls said. "Keep grills clean, too, because bears have very sensitive noses and they will smell any food scent from miles away."

Although admiring wildlife close to home is one of Colorado Springs' attractions, Walls said residents need to do so from afar and should make the bears feel unwelcome in their neighborhoods.

"They remember every place where they've been able to find food and they will keep coming back," Walls said. "If they get into your yard, yell at them and make lots of noise. They are much more scared of you, and the last thing we want is the bears getting comfortable with people."

In 2013, parks officials trapped and relocated 15 bears and put down 16, all from Area 14, which includes El Paso, Teller, Lincoln and Kit Carson counties and a small portion of Elbert County, Walls said.

Statewide, parks officials relocated 96 bears and put down 114 last year, Walls said.

In Colorado, wildlife officials use a two-strike approach for wildlife that has any contact with humans, Walls said. The first time, they will capture, tag and relocate the animal to a remote location. The second time the animal has to be put down, although Walls stressed that is never something Parks and Wildlife want to do.

Anyone can call Parks and Wildlife at (719) 227-5200 to report wildlife sightings.

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