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Bear truth: They’re just not sleepy enough yet

Hibernation still about a month down the road
When bears aren’t plundering fruit from nearby orchards, they’re sometimes seen lazing in trees, as this one was recently in a cottonwood in the Hermosa area.

As apples, pears and apricots ripened and beckoned to cider-pressers, canners and dehydrators, they also invited the ursine members of the community to partake in nature’s bounty.

Those with fruit trees who are hoping to bid farewell to the bears in their backyard will have to wait about another month for hibernation season.

Other than the usual knocked-over trashcans in town, the good news is that bear activity has not been unusually high this season, according to those keeping track.

“Because of the wet weather, there is lots of natural food (for bears) to eat, so there haven’t been very many in-town conflicts,” said Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Bears have been able to successfully forage for food outside human development this year because of the abundance of natural foods.

During the fall, bears are on a 20,000-calorie-a-day diet, fattening up for their winter hibernation.

There has been an uptick in the bear activity in town, but nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year, according to Bryan Peterson of Bearsmart Durango, which helps educate residents on how to live with bears.

“Some property damage with bears getting into fruit trees, open garages and compost,” said Peterson, listing the usual bear problem areas.

Trash, of course, is another big issue for people in residential areas, and will continue to be an area of concern until mid- to late-November as the bears settle in for winter.

“It is not unusual that we are seeing a lot of bears right now. ... The recent cold snap will probably get them thinking about finding a den soon,” Lewandowski said.

There is no set time that bears curl up to sleep, so people should remain vigilant and continue to lock up trash and compost through November.

As long as there is an ample food supply, bears will continue to forage and eat. After the animals hibernate, residents can start relaxing a bit on their bearproofing, although Lewandowski warns residents not to let their guard down and stay alert to their furry neighbors’ doings.

Hannah Robertson is a Durango High School senior who is spending several hours a week studying media in the Herald newsroom.

Bear info

If a bear is displaying aggressive behavior or presenting a threat to public safety or property, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife immediately at 247-0855 – or call 911 or Central Dispatch at 385-2900.

Bear sightings can be reported to Bear Smart Durango at 749-4262 or Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 247-0855.

To order a bearproof trash can, visit bearsmartdurango.org and follow the links to “Obtain A Bear-Resistant Container” to find your supplier.

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