Tips to stay Bear Aware when camping and hiking

With warmer weather and melting snowpack, outdoor enthusiasts are enjoying camping and hiking trips in Colorado’s many scenic locations. Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff are frequently asked what someone should do if they encounter a bear while out camping or hiking. Whether you are visiting Colorado for a vacation or are a long-time resident, it’s important to be aware of how to discourage human-bear encounters and how to avoid potential issues before heading out to live life outside.

First and foremost, when recreating in bear country you should remember that bears are not naturally aggressive toward humans; in fact, most bears are inherently wary of people. Physical encounters between humans and bears remain exceptionally rare.

“Bears are incredibly smart animals, and are more likely than not to just leave the area when they hear humans nearby,” says J Wenum, Area Wildlife Manager for CPW in Gunnison. “However, if a bear is accidentally cornered or surprised, or has lost their normal fear of humans, it may react differently.”

Interactions generally occur when bears become too comfortable around humans, often because of an easy or reliable food source, such as improperly stored camping supplies. When bears lose their fear of people, it may lead to them causing damage to property such as cars or RVs, or creating conflict with people at campsites or on the trails.

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