A wake-up call in bear country

With the tragic death of a woman and three bears near Trimble, we all need to do our best to avoid conflict. Besides the good advice from CPW including don’t run, don’t feed bears and wildlife. They get used to human presence rather than staying wild and shy, which black bears normally are. If you feed hummingbirds, bring feeders in at night or when you are gone. In this dog-centered town (and I have two) keep your dogs on a leash, particularly when walking in a forest, and have bear spray when hiking. Always be aware of your surroundings. If you have kids, teach them proper etiquette around bears and other wildlife. Hiking with ear buds or constantly talking without paying attention does not help your safety.

We will never know what happened in the tragic incident, but chances are the dogs provoked mom bear. I haven’t had my bear spray on me lately, but this incident is a wake-up call and changes my behavior to ensure safety of myself, bears and my dogs.

If you want to have your dog run free, the dog park is great or open fields where you have your dogs under voice control. And if you don’t have control of your dogs, take some obedience classes with your dog. If you have an aggressive dog always have them on a leash. A friend’s dog was just attacked on the Haviland trails.

And always pick up your dog’s poop where many people take dogs. As a ranger naturalist, I have led hikes where we would see bears, moose, elk at a safe distance. Respect wildlife and our opportunities to see wild creatures in a safe way.

– Margaret Mayer, Durango