HUERFANO- It seems that just about everybody in the county has seen bears- wandering through the streets, or passing through their backyard. Some people have had more up-close encounters. The sheriff’s department has been running almost every night on bear calls, including one Cuchara woman who called to report a bear in her house, which had come between her and her children. The La Veta schools were locked down twice within the first week of school for having bears on or around their campus. The Cuchara Inn reported having the same bear come into the building six nights in a row. The DOW has reportedly had to put down 15 bears this summer.
The county has been crawling (literally) with bears these last few weeks, so we at the World Journal have decided to put out a public safety list. The following tips should help you and your family stay safe in bear country.
Bears feel threatened when surprised. Bears will try to avoid humans, so talk, sing, or carry a whistle while you walk. Don’t let children play outside unsupervised, especially near dense brush or running water. Avoid bear cubs. A cub may appear to be abandoned, but the mother will likely be nearby and will attack if she thinks her cub is in danger. Carry a flashlight when you’re out at night to warn a bear you’re around.
Don’t leave food or garbage outside around your home. They are an excellent source of food for hungry bears, so take the time to clean up. Garbage should be kept in plastic bags in the freezer until trash day. If you have livestock, keep their feed in locked, airtight bins away from your animals. For those who have fruit trees on your property, pick up fallen fruit on the ground so it doesn’t become a bear buffet.
If you see a bear, make a wide detour around it or leave the area. If you cannot do either, wait for the bear to move out of the way. Always leave it an escape route. If you come across a bear unexpectedly and at close quarters, do not run. Most bears can run as fast as a racehorse for short sprints– long enough to catch a fleeing human. Don’t scream, throw anything or make sudden movements, as they might provoke a startled bear into attacking.