Jennifer Churchill of the Colorado Division of Wildlife disagrees with Michelle Theall’s view, outlined in her column regarding bears in urban areas. “We kill bears that are aggressive toward people or that have become a public safety threat,” Churchill says of the Division of Wildlife’s policy. Read her take:
The goal of the Division of Wildlife is to keep bears from becoming reliant on human-generated food sources, such as garbage and bird feeders and to prevent conflicts between people and bears. Bears are naturally afraid of humans. If a bear raids a garbage can and is met with loud noises, bear spray, or a shot in the rump with a rubber buck shot, the bear will continue to fear humans and will be less likely to seek out human-generated food sources. If a bear is allowed undisturbed access to garbage, it will become habituated to humans and will seek out human-generated food sources. Habituated bears often become destructive and have been known to break into houses, sheds, and cars in search of food. In addition, habituated bears are more likely to come into direct contact with people, resulting in a threat to public safety.
By allowing bears to become habituated we place ourselves, our neighbors, and the bears at risk. The contents of our garbage cans are not healthy foods for bears and habituated bears are more likely to be injured or killed in confrontations with humans. To keep people and bears safe, it is important to take action quickly by contacting the Division of Wildlife. By contacting the Division of Wildlife at the earliest sign of bear activity on your property, or in your community, you can get advice and assistance in bear management to ensure the safety of yourself and the bear. The Division of Wildlife is responsible for maintaining healthy bear populations in Colorado and will only destroy a bear that has become a danger to humans as a last resort. Go to www.wildlife.state.co.us/bears to learn ways to live safely near bears.