Recognizing the tremendous enrichment that we gain by the abundance and proximity of wildlife near our town, the goal of management is to promote co-existence in a manner that does not endanger the animals or humans. Many wildlife species live in and around Telluride - beaver, black bear, mountain lions, lynx, skunks, and more. Currently, Telluride actively manages just two: bears and beavers.
Black Bear Safety
Black bears are medium-sized bears and Colorado’s largest carnivore. The color of their fur varies greatly, from black to pale brown or sometimes even blond. Some adult black bears closely resemble grizzly or brown bears, although presently, there are no known populations of brown bears in the state.
As omnivores, a black bear’s diet largely depends on the available seasonable food, although vegetables are their mainstay. When available, black bears eat a diversity of insects, including beetle larvae, ants, wasps, bees, and termites, and they kill and eat a variety of small mammals, including rodents, rabbits, and young or unwary ungulates. An ample food supply is critical to a black bear’s survival in the spring when they emerge from dormancy, and in the late summer or fall when they put on fat for winter. As for hibernation, black bears hibernate for up to 200 days during the winter months in rock cavities or under shrubs and trees, and cubs are born in the den in late January or February while the mother is in hibernation; litter size is usually two or three.
Most black bear encounters happen in the early morning or evening hours between the months of March and November when bears are actively searching for food. To live and play in bear country, it’s a must to be aware of a bear’s nature and habits. Most conflicts between bears and people are linked to careless handling of food and garbage. In Mountain Village, it is required that all trash containers and enclosures are wildlife-resistant and kept locked at all times when placed outside for collection.
Tips to Remember When Living in Bear Country
- Bag your trash tightly to contain odors and place bags inside your garage or storage area until day of pickup. Do not put your trash and recycle containers out the night before (or days before pickup). Pick up any loose or spilled garbage. (Click here to review Telluride Municipal Code Sec. 7-5-160)
- Ensure that your trash containers are locked and wildlife-resistant. If you do not have a wildlife-resistant container contact your trash service provider immediately for replacement. (Click here to review Telluride Municipal Code Sec. 7-5-130)
- Always keep your trash bins clean (hot water and a bleach solution). (Click here to review Telluride Municipal Code Sec. 7-5-130)
- Fruit, melon rinds, or other food items in compost piles may attract black bears, so don’t add these and other pungent scraps to the pile. Adding lime will help promote decomposition and reduce odor.
- Keep your BBQ grill free of food and grease to the extent possible.
- Lock your car, home windows, and doors.
- Never leave human, livestock, or pet food outside or in a vehicle, including bird feeders. (Click here to review Telluride Municipal Code Sec. 7-6-210)
What to Do If You Meet a Bear
Bear attacks are rare compared to the number of close encounters. However, if you do meet a bear, here are some suggestions.
- Stay calm - If you see a bear and it hasn’t seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, talk aloud to let the bear discover your presence. If the bear is near your home, call 911 and stay inside your house.
- Stop - Back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact. Give the bear plenty of room to escape. Bears rarely attack people unless they feel threatened or provoked. Don’t run or make sudden movements. Running is likely to prompt the bear to give chase, and you can’t outrun a bear.
- Speak softly - This may reassure a bear that no harm is meant to it. Try not to show fear. Coming between a female and her cubs can be dangerous. If a cub is nearby, try to move away from it. Be alert-other cubs may be in the area.
- Fight back - Fight back if a black bear attacks you. Black bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks, and even their bare hands.
If you have a bear problem, please contact the Telluride Marshal’s Office at (970) 728-3818 during regular business hours or (970)-249-9110 at night and on weekends. In the case of an emergency, please call 9-1-1.
If a bear enters your house when you are present, keep your cool as best you can. Yelling and screaming simply upsets a bear whose mind had previously been focused on finding food. If you can exit your house without crossing the bear’s path, you should do so. Leave as many doors and windows open so the bear can leave after his meal. If no door exit is available, try to reach a first-floor room where you can barricade the door and climb out the window. Otherwise, opt for a second-story room with a phone (dial 9-1-1), no food, and a door to bar shut. If the bear pays you a night-time visit, turn on as many lights as possible. To keep a bear from entering your house, lock your door at night and close and latch first-floor windows, especially those in or near your kitchen or food storage areas.