By Matt Kroschel

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4) – After a long winter’s nap, black bears are waking up and they are very hungry. Those bears are also looking for a meal that’s easy to get.

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“We are getting reports of bears coming out of hibernation throughout the state right now,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife area manager Elissa Knox told CBS4 Monday.

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Knox says it is still a few weeks out before bears in higher altitude communities like Frisco and Silverthorne start coming out of their deep sleeps, but elsewhere reports of bears in people’s trash are already coming into wildlife managers.

“Especially in places like Eagle and Pikin Counties where we have a lot of activity, we are asking people to keep their trash locked up. Don’t put it out until the morning it’s supposed be picked up. If you have dumpsters in your subdivision, please keep them locked. Bears know how to open them if they’re unlocked,” Knox added.

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New for 2017, the Dillon Ranger District will have new bear proof food and trash storage rules for campers on U.S. Forest lands in place.

For wildlife managers, it’s a waiting game to see if bears natural food sources will be in good shape or not this summer.

“Snow is melting fast and things are starting to green up but we could have a late freeze, it will vary throughout the state,” Knox said.

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Wildlife managers say there is a common misconception the reason for more reports of bears and human interactions in recent years is that the bear population is exploding in Colorado, but researchers say that isn’t the case. It has more to do with more people living in, near and visiting country.

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Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.