Bears are making their way back from their winter hibernation, and we need to make sure they stay safe as they forage for food.

Here come the bears! Wildlife officials are asking us all to proceed with caution as our big, furry neighbors start heading out to enjoy spring. Early reports have been coming out of Boulder, Morrison, Steamboat, and Silver Plume. Bear activity will only increase from here on out.

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

“Every time a bear gets a treat, a bird feeder, a hummingbird feeder, trash, it teaches the bear that people mean food,” said Mark Lamb, CPW’s Area Wildlife Manager for South Park and the west Metro Denver area. “People who think that it's one time, no big deal, are totally wrong. It is a big deal when you compound that ‘one time’ with how many ‘one time’ they get from your neighbors, too. It adds up.”

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."

Please remember that a majority of the situations where the CPW has had to put down a bear, it was due to an entirely avoidable situation caused by humans. We've all been doing a fantastic job distancing ourselves for the health of our fellow man, now, let's please, please, give the wildlife of our state the same courtesy.