The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is urging residents and visitors in the vicinity of Curt Gowdy State Park to be aware of an increase in black bear activity in the area.
Recently there have been numerous issues with black bears attempting to obtain food rewards from campsites and residences. “We’ve already removed one bear, but there are several more active in the area,” said Cheyenne Game Warden Spencer Carstens. A problematic adult male bear was recently removed from the population, but wildlife managers have identified about a half-dozen individual bears in the area by using photos from trail cameras.
“Regardless if you’ve never had problems with bears in the past, we need people to be bear wise,” said Lee Knox, Laramie Region Wildlife Biologist. “This is bear country. We need you to be diligent at all times. We can’t trap our way out of this problem.” He said the increase in bear activity is likely due to the lack of natural food sources caused by extremely dry conditions, forcing bears to seek alternative food sources. “When a bear gains access to food in a camp or around a home, it is likely to become food-conditioned, and food-conditioned bears are less likely to avoid humans and can become destructive and dangerous in their attempts to obtain human foods.”
Here are some tips for a Bear Wise campsite:
- Never store attractants in your tent.
- Store all food and garbage and any other odorous items inaccessible to bears.
- If available store attractants inside a vehicle, hard-sided campers, horse trailers, or bear boxes.
- Store food and coolers suspended from a tree at least 10’ to 15’ high and 4’ feet away from the tree trunk. Sleeping area should be 100 yards away from food storage and the cooking area.
- All pet food and livestock feed should be properly stored.
- Wipe down eating and cooking area after each use.
- Dispose of all garbage properly and pack out any remaining garbage.
Visitors to developed recreation sites on the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests must now comply with a forest order that requires proper storage of food and refuse which might attract bears. The order is necessary to minimize adverse interactions between bears and humans.
Residents who live in bear country can prevent attracting bears to their property with these tips:
- Store garbage where bears cannot gain access to it.
- Haul garbage to an approved disposal site as often as possible to avoid odor buildup.
- Electric fencing is the most effective way to keep bears out of orchards and gardens. Pick all fruits and vegetables as soon as possible. Pick up dropped fruit off the ground.
- Store livestock, poultry feed, and pet food in bear-resistant containers.
- Dogs and other pets should be kept inside at night. If possible, feed pets inside.
- Sheep should be closely herded. Consider electric fencing for pigs. Haul dead livestock to a landfill or rendering plant.
- Protect bee hives with electric fencing or by elevating the hives on platforms.
- When feeding birds, feed suet only during the winter months, and suspend hummingbird feeders out of reach of bears in the summer.
If bears get into garbage or other food, remove the attractant immediately and notify the Game and Fish Department. Avoid giving bears a repeated food reward. Bears that associate people and human dwellings with easy food rewards can become dangerous, and may eventually have to be killed. For more Bear Wise tips visit the Game and Fish webpage at wgfd.wyo.gov.