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Tips for camping and hiking in bear country

Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to make sure you're bear aware because most conflicts between people and bears can be traced to easy-to-get-at human food,

KUSA - It's the time of year to get outdoors, and if you are heading out to camp or hike you need to be thinking about wildlife.

Bears are sharing space with a growing human population and are curious, intelligent, and very resourceful, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They'll explore all possible food sources near homes, campgrounds or vehicles.

Most conflicts between people and bears can be traced to easy-to-get-at human food, garbage, pet food, bird seed or other attractants, CPW said on its website. When people allow bears to find food, a bear’s natural drive to eat can overcome its wariness of people.

Bears that get too comfortable around people can destroy property or even become a threat to human safety. Those often get euthanized.

RELATED: Bear put down after breaking into post office

CAMPING IN BEAR COUNTRY

Most campsites west of Interstate 25 are in bear country, according to resources provided by CPW. Below are tips from the agency for campers.

  • Stash Your Trash. Use bear-proof containers when available. If they’re full, double bag trash and lock it in your trunk or RV. Never leave trash outside.
  • Store Attractants Safely. Store food, beverages and toiletries in airtight containers and lock in your trunk. Many bears have discovered that coolers, bags and boxes are full of food; never leave them in your tent or anywhere a bear could see, smell or reach.
  • Keep a Clean Camp. Bears are attracted to odors of all kinds and will investigate anything interesting in hopes of finding food.
  • Keep a Clean Tent. Don’t bring anything with an odor into your tent—that includes all foods, bever­ages, scented toiletries, gum, toothpaste, sunscreen, candles, and insect repellant. Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked in; store them with your food.
  • Lock RVs and Vehicles. Close windows and lock your vehicle and RV when you leave your campsite and at night before you go to sleep.

LIVING IN BEAR COUNTRY

  • Many bears that enter homes do so through an unlocked or open window or door. Close and lock all bear-accessible windows and doors when you leave the house, and at night before you go to bed.
  • If you must leave downstairs windows open, install sturdy grates or bars. Screens don’t keep out bears.
  • Keep garage doors and windows closed and locked at night and when you’re not home. Don’t leave your garage door standing open when you’re not outside. Install extra-sturdy doors if you have a freezer, refrigerator, pet food, bird seed, or other attractants in your garage.
  • Keep car doors and windows closed and locked if you park outside. Make sure there’s nothing with an odor in your vehicle, including candy, gum, air fresheners, trash, lotions and lip balms.
  • Bears are great climbers — remove any tree limbs that might provide access to upper-level decks and windows.
  • Replace exterior lever-style door handles with good quality round door knobs that bears can’t pull or push open.