We humans tend to know little about bears. They don’t always hibernate deeply, and might wake up if you stumble across them during their great sleep. They don’t urinate or defecate while hibernating, and their dens have a good smell about them. And, perhaps most importantly, they aren’t as habituated to seeking human food sources as many believe, writes acclaimed Colorado author Laura Pritchett (5280). “Bears are opportunists, yes, but take away the ‘opportunity’ part and they won’t be ‘-ists.'”
Pritchett’s observations—collected while tagging along with Department of Wildlife officials and grad students studying why bears go into public areas, and whether they teach such behavior to their cubs—are timely, considering a piece of legislation moving through the Colorado House this week. Just yesterday, a committee approved a proposal that would overturn a 19-year ban on spring bear hunts (Denver Post).
Proponents of the legislation say the state’s bear population has increased dramatically since voters approved the ban in 1992, and that the state needs flexibility in dealing with the animals as encounters with humans becomes more frequent. On the other side, opponents argue that conflict between bears and humans is largely the result of the humans not securing their trash or property, and pushing ever farther into bear territory (7News).