Help protect bears by locking trash bins and removing items that may attract them

Bears have always been a part of life in Boulder. Urban bear activity typically increases in late summer and early fall as bears enter the stage of hyperphagia, a period of excessive eating, to fatten up for hibernation.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has reported high bear activity around Boulder and issues with unsecured trash acting as an attractant to bears on a nightly basis. This year, two bears were hit and killed by cars in city limits. An adult black bear was relocated from the University of Colorado, and an ear-tagged bear, who was relocated in the past, was euthanized after it became used to finding trash in town and lost its fear of people. Euthanasia is used as a public safety measure as relocating a bear more than once is not an effective wildlife management option.

The city encourages community members, including University of Colorado Boulder students, to be extra vigilant and ensure trash containers are locked, per city ordinance. Follow these steps to stay safe and help make your home unattractive to bears:

  • Use bear-resistant trash and compost bins, and make sure latches are secure and bins are not overflowing. Contact your waste hauler if you need to order or replace a bin.
  • All trash and compost containers put out the night before collection are required to be in bear resistant containers. This applies to the entire city.
  • Pick ripe fruit from trees and don’t allow it to collect on the ground.
  • Secure livestock, goats and chickens within an enclosure or permitted electric fence.
  • Remove food wrappers, coffee cups and any item with the slightest odor from vehicles and ensure the doors are locked.
  • Remove bird feeders and clean up spilled seeds on the ground.
  • Do not leave pet food or dishes outdoors.
  • Clean up and store outdoor grills inside after use.
  • Be aware of dog leash restrictions on hiking trails.
  • Report bear sightings.

“This has been a rough year for bears in the city,” said Val Matheson, Urban Wildlife Coordinator for the City of Boulder. “Urban areas are extremely dangerous for wildlife, and it is vital that we secure trash and reduce attractants to protect bears and other wildlife. There are so many hazards in the city, and the more easily bears find food sources, the more likely they are to return and lose their fear of humans. It is hard to see a bear killed, by accident or euthanized for public safety. It is preventable if everyone does their part.”

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