Written by Megan Kienapfel, ESLLC 2017-2018
Living in a small town surrounded by nature is amazing. There are things in Ouray that I get to see, almost daily, that some people never get to see. During the summers, there is one major issue that we deal with: bears.
Usually they are breaking into trashcans or climbing trees for food. However, the more comfortable the bears get around people, the more dangerous they become. There have been instances of them breaking into cars and houses because of food. When the end of summer approaches, the bears become more agitated and threatening. One of the easiest ways to stay safe during this time is to try and avoid walking around at night, especially alone.
Another, what most people would consider obvious, way to help keep bears and people safe is to not feed them. I bet you have probably seen the signs before warning about feeding the bears and honestly did not think much of it at the time. Feeding the bears endangers the bears by conditioning them to associate people with food, therefor disturbing their natural dietary routine. It also endangers the people near the bears whether you’re the one feeding them or not.
In the summer of 2009, a local Ouray woman was killed by the bears. She had been feeding the bears for years despite many warnings. The woman, Donna Munson, was killed by a male black bear after trying to help a younger bear after it had gotten in a fight. After Munson was found, the state officials had to kill 25 bears that were considered a problem.
To help keep bears and people safe, be responsible. Do not feed the bears. Keep your trash where they can’t access it. Do not walk alone. If there is a potential threat, call the local sheriff or police department or the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The phone number for Colorado Division of Wildlife is (303) 297-1192.