Steamboat bear roaming mountain area in search of food, putting off winter hibernation
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs black bear population is trying to sleep, and Colorado wildlife officials want to help them do that.
At least one bear is having trouble going into its winter hibernation.
“We do have a bear that has been cruising around Steamboat that has not gone in hibernation yet,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Kyle Bond said. “We want to remind people to lock up their vehicles and trash.”
The specific bear has been roaming around in the vicinity of Steamboat Resort and at one point tried to hibernate under a deck of a home.
“That bear has not returned since then,” Bond said.
Bond said bears can sometimes be deterred from hibernating because of the availability of food that the bears think they need to survive during the winter, especially food sources produced by humans.
Human food sources include unsecured trash containers and bird feeders.
“There is a potential that the bear will continue to exploit those resources and not enter hibernation,” Bond said.
Bond said people report the bear they are seeing appears to be mangey and skinny, but Parks and Wildlife officers have seen the bear and do not think it is unhealthy.
“It looks to be a healthy bear,” Bond said.
Parks and Wildlife officials were also reminding people to lock their car doors because bears can break into them and cause extensive damage.
Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf has said in the past that he did not expect the local black bear population to start hibernating until late November or December.
“They’re consuming as many calories as possible to get through hibernation,” Middledorf said. “These animals are still out and about.”
Once in hibernation, it is possible the bears can decide to wake up and look for food if there is a warm spell.
He said Parks and Wildlife officers will intervene if bears pick less than ideal spots to hibernate, and they would relocate the animals if necessary.