The exciting part of living in the Rio Grande Forest is observing the wildlife. During our four years here, we have seen:
Mountain Goats. Mule Deer. Elk. Moose. Beavers. Fox. Squirrels. Chipmunks. Hummingbirds. Woodpeckers. Thirty different species of birds.
We’re also heard a mountain lion. Haven’t seen one…yet. They seem to stay over the ridge away from our house.
Not the Black Bears.
Our first year here a Black Bear came to drink from the container the previous owners set out for the wildlife. Needless to say, we discarded the container immediately.
We didn’t see another bear that year, but we read up on living with bears and the next year we followed all the suggestions about securing our trash, taking in the birdfeeders at night, and bear proofing our home.
When Mr. Bear 2012 refused to leave, we did what we were supposed to do and contacted the CPW office. A wildlife ranger came out. During his visit, Mr. Bear returned and demonstrated how he had not read the pamphlet that loud noises would chase him away.
Mr. Black Bear 2012 didn’t come back.
This year we’ve had three encounters and it’s only August.
The first time we accidentally left the hummingbird feeders out overnight. Mr. Bear 2013 tore the feeder from the tree and dropped it – empty–when he left.
We never saw him only the evidence he’d visited.
Remember, bears have excellent memories and he’d found a food source at our house. Mr. Bear 2013 returned.
Unfortunately, the next time he came, we’d left the shed door open while we worked in the yard. Our neighbor called to tell us to be careful because a bear was in our shed.
When we came through the house to see for ourselves, Mr. Bear 2013 was sitting on the deck helping himself to the forty-pound tub of sunflower seeds we had stored for the birdfeeders.
We fired a firecracker from our stash that we store on the kitchen table.
Mr. Bear disappeared over the ridge only to return forty minutes later to finish out the tub he thought he’d left behind.
We fired another firecracker. He scampered over the ridge in a different direction this time.
Relieved that Mr. Bear 2013 had read the pamphlet and was duly frightened off by loud noises, we elected not to notify the CPW regional office.
If you look in the picture you’ll see Mr. Bear 2013 has a blue tag on his ear. The tag means he’d already been tagged once, and Colorado has a “two strike” rule for dealing with problem bears.
The first time a bear gets into trouble, it receives an ear tag marking it as a problem bear. Another serious encounter, or “second strike,” means the bear will be killed.
We didn’t want that.
HOWEVER, we knew we needed to be extra careful because bears will return to the same locations where they have been successful finding food in the past.
For two weeks, we didn’t see Mr. Bear 2013. Then last Friday we woke up to find this:Mr. Bear 2013 had pawed and scratched the shed door until the latch on top came undone. We’re pretty sure our visitor was Mr. Bear 2013 because he’d already been in the shed once. He remembered the sunflower seeds and returned.
Then he carried the grey tub out of the shed and up the hill.
Even though the only thing Mr. Bear 2013 took from the shed was the tub he remembered when he could have had the tub of deer corn tub underneath or mixed birdseed in the white container, we’re contacting CWP when their offices open on Monday.
I believe in preserving Colorado’s wildlife, but smarty Mr. Bear 2013 might decide to come back for the tubs he left in the shed or into the kitchen for human food next time.
Can’t have that!