Bear attacks on the rise
Wetmore rancher loses llama; teenage camper bit.
The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife warns
A Wetmore rancher lost a llama this week — the third animal lost to bear attacks on the ranch this summer. On July 15, a bear bit the leg of a teenager camping near Leadville.
As a result, wildlife officials are asking residents and vacationers to take extra care to avoid attracting hungry bears to homes, cabins, campgrounds and picnic areas.
"Within the past few weeks, wildlife officers have responded to a higher than normal level of calls about bears entering homes, garages, sheds, tents, chicken coops and damaging beehives," said Michael Seraphin, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife "Officials also had to kill the bear that injured the teen camper — it had apparently ransacked a cooler outside a tent in an adjacent area of the camp prior to the incident."
Canon City Wildlife Officer Zach Holder said a bear preying on a llama is "Not extremely common, but it does happen. There are some instances when it is a poor food year for bears that they will attack pigs, goats, chickens or llamas."
The blame, in part, has been placed on dry conditions that have limited bears' food supply.
"This has been a below average year for natural food for bears," explained Cory Chick, an area wildlife manager from
"But those natural food sources are harder to find in dry conditions," Chick said.
Holder said, "It is important to understand that a bear is ruled by his stomach. He spends all his time looking for something to eat."
When humans are making it too easy for bears to find unnatural food around their homes, the bruins are resorting to alternate food sources. It is possible a bear is initially attracted by grain in a grain bin then takes advantage of another food source such as a chicken or a llama, Holder said.
With prime feeding time for bears just ahead, wildlife managers are concerned that the number of bear encounters could increase and are advising people to remove food temptations from their homes and campsites to avoid confrontations with bears.
"During dry years like this, the bears have to look harder for food, and in doing so, often end up finding what people leave out — garbage, bird feeders, barbecue grills and other human food," Chick said. "We are always going to have nuisance bears, but when bears are rewarded for foraging around houses and outbuildings, it increases the chances a nuisance bear becomes a dangerous bear."
It's recommended people secure their trash, bring in bird feeders and pet food, and remove food attractants.
If weather conditions improve by mid- to late-August, the fall food supply of fruit and acorns should improve the bear situation. In the meantime, the best solution is to recognize that
For more information on how to reduce the risk of bear conflicts in your neighborhood, go to http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Mammals/LivingWithBearsL1.htm.
J. Paul Brown
Colorado State Representative
House District 59
200 E. Colfax, Room 271
Denver, Colorado 80203