Park County, Colorado is home to some of the most beautiful and rugged landscapes in the United States. With its stunning mountain vistas, crystal-clear lakes, and vast expanses of forest, it’s no wonder that visitors flock to the area year-round to enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
However, Park County is also home to a large population of black bears. While these majestic creatures are a symbol of the wild beauty of the region, they can also pose a significant threat to human safety if not treated with the respect they deserve.
That’s why it’s so important to be “bear aware” when visiting Park County. This means taking a few simple steps to minimize the risk of bear encounters and ensure that both visitors and bears can coexist in harmony.
Here are just a few of the reasons why being bear aware is so crucial in Park County:
- Bears are attracted to food: Like all animals, bears need to eat to survive. Unfortunately, many of the foods that humans bring with them when camping or hiking are also attractive to bears, including things like coolers full of meat, garbage bags, and even pet food. If bears learn that they can find food in these areas, they may become habituated to human presence and begin to view humans as a potential source of food.
- Bears can be dangerous: While bears are generally shy and will try to avoid humans if possible, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or if they perceive that their cubs are in danger. In rare cases, bears have been known to attack humans, resulting in serious injury or even death.
- Bear encounters can be traumatic: Even if a bear encounter doesn’t result in physical harm, it can still be an incredibly traumatic experience for both humans and bears. In many cases, bears that have become habituated to human food sources are eventually euthanized because they pose a danger to humans. This is a tragedy that can be avoided if everyone takes steps to prevent bear encounters in the first place.
So, what can you do to be bear aware when visiting Park County? Here are a few tips:
- Store food properly: When camping or picnicking, store food in bear-proof containers or hang it from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from the trunk. Never store food in your tent or leave food out overnight.
- Dispose of garbage properly: Pack out all trash and dispose of it in bear-proof dumpsters or trash cans. Never leave garbage bags lying around your campsite.
- Keep a clean campsite: Wipe down tables and cooking surfaces after use and make sure all food scraps are cleaned up. Don’t leave dishes or utensils lying around.
- Be aware of your surroundings: When hiking or exploring, make noise to alert bears to your presence. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Keep small children close to you at all times.
By following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure that both you and the bears of Park County can enjoy the beautiful wilderness in safety and harmony. Remember, bears are a vital part of the ecosystem and it’s up to all of us to treat them with the respect they deserve.
Want to learn more about Black Bears in Park County, Colorado? Check out this video made by the South Park National Heritage Area explaining some facts about Black Bears and their history here in Colorado.