A recent photo suggests a bear waddled onto a Pagosa Springs resident’s property and pillaged its trash can.
Bryan Peterson, of Bear Smart Durango, said he saw the photograph on Facebook.
“It sounded like a bear raided a Rubbermaid storage unit in the back of someone’s home,” he said.
The homeowner appeared to be Terry Smith. Smith could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Peterson said it was early for bears to be waking up. “And I am a little surprised that we had a bear report in Pagosa before Durango – it’s unusual, since they (Pagosa) are a higher elevation,” he said.
But thanks to warm temperatures, bears have been emerging unseasonably early throughout the country.
“There have been reports of bears coming out a month early elsewhere,” said Peterson, citing Montana as one such place.
Though many humans find bears adorable, human-bear interactions often result in misfortune for both species.
According to data collected by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Bear Smart Durango, in 2014, there were 397 bear sightings – which include instances of bears being spotted in trees – and bear incidents – which include bears rummaging through trash, damaging property and getting into chicken cages. Of the 397 total sightings and incidents, 196 involved bears in trash.
Beyond hunter-caused bear deaths, over the last five years, on average, local humans have killed 40 bears in our area annually in a variety of circumstances. Of the 40, 21 bears died at human hands as “road kill,” a term that applies both to vehicle mortalities and electrocution. The other 19 bear deaths are recorded as “nuisance kills.”