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Boulder Bear Coalition is Opposing House Bill 1220. Increasing Hunting is not a solution to human-bear conflict

A question from a concerned resident about why we need to harvest fruit in town:

Hi Brenda, I read your message about the bears, and I do appreciate very much that there is a concern about keeping them safe. The one big issue I have is removing the fruit from the fruit trees—-this is their natural food source that they rely on. The mountains don’t have that much fruit and they need to come down to the foothills to get their food source. If you remove that, you starve them! Trash cans are one thing, but removing the fruit is another. Instead of starving them, I would suggest teaching people how to cohabitate with them. Sincerely, Tracey

Hi Tracey, Thanks for your message. This subject often confusing so I hope I can explain it better here.
1. Apples and pears and other fruit in town are not a native food source for bears thus we are feeding them artificially and harvesting this fruit is not taking away their natural food source. People planted the fruit trees in town. 
2. The fact is that there is plenty of native food in the mountains. In a bad food year bears are well adapted to survive. In fact a female bear will be impregnated in the spring/summer but the embryos do not attach until she goes into hibernation. At that time, depending on her body weight/health she will either have 1, 2 or 3 embryos attach or if she is very lean, none. This keeps the population in balance. Whereas if she eats lots of fruit in town and then goes into hibernation very fat she may wake up with far too many cubs that the native food in the wilderness can sustain. Thus she and her cubs will return to town for more supplemented food source.
3. Boulder Bear Coalition partnered with OSMP this spring and planted 2 native food buffers for bears in open space. We planted over 200 root stock of wild plums and choke cherries (both native fruit) and have set up trail cameras to see if indeed the bears are using the area. If so we will expand the program. This is a much smarter way to help provide a truly natural food source, away from town and people.
4. There are many examples of bears that have foraged in town eating trash and/or fruit and were later killed for being in town too often. (See information about bear 317 and her cubs. She and her cubs were tranquillized and tagged while eating pears in a backyard. They were relocated 50 miles away, returned and continued to eat fruit in town. As a result of becoming habituated to being into town she became aggressive and was consequently killed.
While some may want to focus on changing the city and state policy about how to manage “problem” bears, I do not see any benefit to attracting the bears into town. There are just too many cars and people to result in a positive outcome for the bears. I hope this helps. It is complicated and from my years of working with the city and state it is my firm conclusion that whatever we can do to keep them out of town the better their chance of surviving.
All the best, Brenda

Sample Letter for neighbors after a bear sighting in town, feel free to copy and use. 

Subject: Bears in Town

Message: Please Help Protect Our Local Bears!

Black bears are coming into town looking for food. In the ________________ neighborhood there have been several sightings of __________(type, number of bears). Please do not give them a reason to come into town, where their chance of survival is greatly decreased. As the saying goes “A fed bear, is a dead bear.” It takes an active community to help protect the bears.

Trash is the number one reason that bears are in town. If you see a trash can that is overflowing, not latched properly or trash strewn across an alley, you can help by doing the following:
Download Inquire Boulder and report address using the app on your phone. This will go into an official database for the city officials to respond. It is super easy to use and will automatically connect gps coordinates with the location and photo. Most importantly this will create a record of the report. If this is not available, call code enforcement at 303 441-3333 with addresses of violators. This can be done anonymously.

Fruit is also an attractant for bears in town. What you can do to help reduce fruit as an attractant: We have joined efforts with 4 other nonprofits to help harvest fruit throughout Boulder. Contact Community Fruit Rescue to learn more!

We are all part of this amazing community of people and wildlife. It is only a couple of months a year that we need to really step up our efforts to take simple yet potentially life-saving steps to protect the bears. And we can’t do it without you. Talk to your neighbors! Inform, educate, share information on how we can protect Boulder’s wildlife. Contact Boulder Bear Coalition via FB or email with concerns, comments, addresses/photos (showing address/trash) for help supporting your efforts to protect our local bears!

Update on the controversial CPW Predator Control Study

Claws Caucus, 2/16/17
Colorado Voters for Animals hosted a wildlife panel at the state Capital on Thursday, February 16th to discuss CPW’s recently approved “Predator Control Study”. The panel discussion, lead by Representative Lebsock, was made up of three CPW representatives and three CSU Professors.

Here is a link to a recording of the panel discussion: CLAWS Caucus, 2/16/17

Articles about the study

WildEarth Guardians file injunction to halt CPW’s predator management plans; Boulder Weekly, March 30, 2017
CPW and the oil and gas industry can’t have it both ways; Boulder Weekly, March 16, 2017
Numbers Game: Does subtracting predators add up to an increased number of fawns?; Telluride News, the Watch,  March 9, 2017
Survival of the fittest, A Parks and Wildlife study aims to increase mule deer numbers by killing black bears and mountain lions; Telluride News, the Watch, March 2, 2017
Update: Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission predator management plans:  Commission asked to delay killing of mountain lions and bears in the name of sound science; Boulder Weekly, February 23, 2017
Off target: Are mountain lions and bears about to be killed for the sins of the oil and gas industry?; Boulder Weekly, February 9, 2017
Colorado embarks on experimental “predator control” killing of more lions and bears to try to save dwindling deer; Denver Post, December 14, 2016

LawSuit Filed

WildEarth Guardians sue CPW over this study. You can read about that lawsuit here and here.

Study Details

All details and documentation about the study, including the Wildlife Commissioners Hearing can be found here

Congratulations to Everyone Who Helped Pass Boulder’s New Bear Resistant Trash Ordinance!

What a huge success and one which would not have been possible without all the help of the Boulder Bear Coalition members who worked diligently with City Council, Colorado Department of Wildlife, wildlife biologists, bear protection groups throughout the United States and local businesses and communities to gain unanimous support from the city to enact this new law.

Thus far, this is the largest city to require such a large area of the city to store trash and compost in bear-resistant polycarts and dumpsters. Boulder is setting an important example and we hope other cities will be inspired to work with us to improve black bear’s lives throughout the U.S.

It is not a perfect solution as bears will continue to use urban areas for shelter amongst trees and for readily available water that flows through ditches from the foothills to urban neighborhoods. However securing trash will reduce a major attractant that has continued to bring bears into town in search of easily available food over the last several years.

A HUGE BEAR HUG to all who helped support such an important effort in creating awareness (and more importantly action) in our community and local government!

For more information on the new law, see: