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County bears are waking up

To protect the animal and yourself, take down bird feeders
This young bear climbed up on a deck in the Glacier Club to eat from bird feeders. It is too soon to know whether conditions will force more bears to forage for human food, but experts encourage residents to take down their bird feeders.

The bears have woken, and they are likely sniffing around for bird feed, trash, food in cars and all other edible morsels.

A young bear wandered up onto Karen Meyer’s deck at the Glacier Club this week to feast on her bird feeders.

“The biggest problem with bird feeders: Bears know what they are, and they know the caloric boost they provide,” said Bryan Peterson, executive director of Bear Smart Durango.

After the bear’s visit, Meyer took down her feeders. Peterson encourages other residents to do the same to protect both bears and people.

While Meyer said her visitor was groggy and fun to watch, she didn’t want to teach him to seek out people food.

“There is such an innocence to them, but of course, they are wild animals and dangerous,” she said Tuesday.

Bears that find food around human homes can start to aggressively seek it, even when homeowners take every preventative measure, Peterson said.

They particularly are driven to seek foods from humans during a dry year.

It’s too soon to say what kind of year it might be for bears. A late frost still could wipe out the berry and acorn supply, he said.

Locally, bears are waking a bit early, but in Yellowstone National Park, Canada and other areas, the bears woke up a month early, Peterson said.

To help prevent bears from diving into county trash cans, Bear Smart has provided bear-resistant trash containers in Durango West I because it is a bear hot spot.

This year, Bear Smart will be expanding the program across U.S. Highway 160 to Durango West II, Peterson said.

mshinn@ durangoherald.com

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