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Parks And Wildlife Gets Working On Their Bear Aware Campaign

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Bear cubs in Golden in August 2012 (credit: City of Golden)

Bear cubs in Golden in August 2012 (credit: City of Golden)

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – State wildlife officials in the high country say the weather in upcoming weeks will be critical in determining what bear season will be like.

If the mountains continue to get moisture, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are hoping that will lead to conditions that will mean fewer bear-human encounters this year.

But if things start to dry out officials say it might mean more of the same kinds of issues that were a problem across much of the state in 2012.

The department says they are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst as they work on a plan to educate the public about how to avoid problematic run-ins with bears.

“We’d like to see moisture this spring but what all the long term forecasts are telling us is that this may be another dry year in Colorado,” said department spokesman Randy Hampton.

Parks and Wildlife officials met in Glenwood Springs on Thursday and invited a CBS4 crew to see how they are developing their prevention plans.

That consists of programs to teach residents in areas near bear habitats what do to when they encounter bears and how to keep them from coming into their homes.

“As we came out of a really very busy bear year we recognize education is the No. 1 thing we can do,” Hampton said. “Educate the public about what to do if they encounter bears and how to keep bears from coming around their homes.”

Bears are a major issue in towns like Aspen, and they’ve been dealing with them for decades. A normal busy bear year for police consists of about 300 calls for service. Last year Aspen police got more than 1,000 calls.

“The bears were having to travel more to find natural food sources, foods not as abundant in a year when we have drought conditions — which we may have again this year,” Hampton said.

Hampton said they are also going to concentrate on educating the public about moving bears, which is becoming an increasing problem.

“There are a lot of things that could happen when you relocate a bear and we don’t want people to think that’s just the great cure all. What we want people to do is to work to solve the problem before it happens,” Hampton said.

Blocking bears from access to trash is a key point to the department’s planned campaign.

One CPW official who works in the Colorado Springs area said it has been so dry there, and there’s such a problem with them having access to food due to human development that some bears there didn’t hibernate this winter.

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