Bears are emerging from hibernation, and they are hungry.

Here come the bears! We've seen several reports in the news of bears breaking into houses and cars to cure their after-nap munchies, and wildlife officials are asking us all to proceed with caution.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), mid-April is the time when it expects bear activity to ramp up. CPW officials say that it's generally the male bears that are first to start stirring around. Female bears, especially those with cubs, will stay in their dens a few weeks longer. They are trying to conserve energy and wait until spring starts bearing more available food sources.

Now is the time to be particularly vigilant. It's a no-brainer that bears will be rooting around mountain communities, but they have been known to frequent the foothills and neighborhoods closer to metro areas in search of a quick snack. They are on high alert to anything they can get their paws on, and they are also much more willing to approach homes and populated areas to get their food fix, especially if natural food sources are scarce, so be "Bear Aware" urges the CPW.  

"As bears begin to emerge in Colorado, ensuring trash is properly stored, food and supplies are not left in cars, and taking down birdfeeders help keep bears from seeking easy food sources," the agency says. Check out the checklist of things to do to keep yourself and bears safe

"We stress it every year, small behaviors by people can make a huge difference for bears," said Tom Davies, district wildlife manager in Summit County. "We need people to keep cars and garages locked, keep attractants out of reach and properly use and lock bear-proof trash cans. When you are living in bear country, you have a responsibility to follow ordinances and be conscientious. If you don't, you should expect that we will be issuing warnings and fines."

Residents are also urged to report unwanted bear activity to keep both themselves and bears safer. And please, please don't feed the bears under any circumstances. Feeding them or allowing them easy access to trash cans, etc., does them nothing but harm.

"Curious, intelligent, and very resourceful, black bears will explore all possible food sources. If they find food near homes, campgrounds, vehicles, or communities, they’ll come back for more. Bears that become aggressive in their pursuit of an easy meal must often be destroyed," says CPW. "Every time we’re forced to destroy a bear, it’s not just the bear that loses. We all lose a little piece of the wildness that makes Colorado so special."

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