Colorado’s bears are awake. Here’s how to keep yourself — and them — safe

If you are planning a weekend digging project of course, call utility location services (811), but if you plan to go up into the mountains, you might want to read this first! 

Whether they are raiding apartments in Vail, trashing cars in Aspen or Steamboat Springs, or disrupting foot races in Boulder or Colorado Springs, Colorado bears are out in full force. The weather is warming up and as the rising human population encroaches into bear territory, interactions between humans and bruins are becoming increasingly common.

But there are things you can do to reduce potential conflict. Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill offered some of the best ways to keep you, your belongings and the bears safe, whether you live in bear country or you’re just visiting during the summer months.

Camping/hiking in bear country

  • If a campground provides bear boxes to stow your food and other items, like toothpaste, that smell delicious to bears, the likelihood of a bear showing up to search for a food reward in pretty high. “There are bear boxes at campsites,” Churchill said. “Use them!”
  • Buy a bear-resistant cooler. “They’re pricey and many people won’t want to make the commitment, but they will save your car from bears,” Churchill said.
  • Hide your food out of plain sight, in a locked car. “As a last resort, lock your food up in a car/trunk. If you’re in the backcountry it is recommended that you hang your food far up high between trees in a bag,” Churchill said.
  • Keep your sleeping areas clean. “Don’t bring anything in the tent with a scent,” Churchill said. “No toothpaste, food, deodorant. Don’t wear the clothes you cooked in, keep them with your food.”
  • Keep your kids safe. “Teach your kids how to treat and interact with wildlife or any animals they don’t know,” Churchill said. “We have a SMART sheet on our website to teach kids what to do when they encounter wildlife.”
  • Having a healthy fear of bears not only keeps you safe, but also keeps them alive. “The more folks we have in Colorado, the more visitors, they don’t do the right things and chase them off. It’s great to get cool photos of wildlife, but if a bear, or any wildlife, is changing it’s behavior, you’re too close,” she said.

Colorado’s bears are awake. Here’s how to keep yourself — and them — safe