Tips for bear-proofing your house: lock your doors and windows. (You’re welcome!)

Oh, hai!  Join me for breakfast?

Oh, hai! Join me for breakfast?

OMFG:  I think this state needs to issue basic intelligence tests for people who want to live in the Wildlife Urban Interface (WUI) zone in our foothills and mountains.  This morning, I cracked open my newspaper to read this:  “Boulder Heights plagued by bear break-ins.”  My goodness–this is news if local bears have become expert lock-pickers and safe-crackers!  I knew they were intelligent animals, but this is remarkable news!

But no.  There were no “break-ins,” unless you consider walking in through an open door or window a “break-in.”  People are going to bed at night with their doors and windows wide-open and are surprised to find entire bear families raiding their fridges:  “Most recently, one came in through a neighbor’s window, pulled all the drawers and trays out of the refrigerator and ended up devouring a pile of energy bars.”  That’s the thing about bears–they’re smart enough to zero in on the high-calorie, easily accessible foods you leave around the house, but they’re not in fact smart enough to outwit a locked door or window.

Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, offers advice for the hundreds of people who apparently have never lived either in cities or in the wilderness:  “Don’t put trash out too early. Make sure we close any lower-level windows and doors and lock them so that bears can’t get in. It only takes one time for the bear to get that reward to start zeroing in on homes and garages.”

Where did these people come?  Aren’t these just the basic rules of prudent citizenship, whether or not you’re living in bear country?

16 thoughts on “Tips for bear-proofing your house: lock your doors and windows. (You’re welcome!)

  1. First time I came across a bear in Colorado, I was with a friend in her cabin up the mountains. We were unloading the car and two cute-as-can-be little bear cubs came prancing out from the trees. I’m no dummy – I knew mama bear was around somewhere so we made haste for the cabin. Sure enough the mom came around a few minutes afterwards. Bear safety: it’s kind of a real thing you should know in Colorado.


    • And yet: so few seem to have the sense that the benevolent creator gave a chipmunk!

      I haven’t seen any stories about people complaining that cougars have eaten their miniature dogs yet, but those are probably right around the corner.


  2. Off bear-topic, but re the article below on overeager police: I think all potential police officers should be forced to read Orwell’s “Killing of the Elephant” and write an essay about it at least once a year.


  3. Thanks for the public service announcement (as I hang my head in shame at what should have been obvious)! Staying for a night in a cabin near Glacier NP. Wouldn’t have thought to close the lower-story windows like I would have in the more urban, East Coast setting where I live.


    • Oh, wow–Glacier is totes bear country! That’s the one NP where I’ve seen multiple bears on different occasions.

      I’ve never seen a bear in Colorado myself.


      • Am loaded up with bear spray (& knowledge) for today’s 11-12 mi hike to the Grinnell Glacier. Camped in Glacier 15 years ago but didn’t see a bear (though was younger, foolish, & oblivious).

        Have seen several black bears in PA, including helping some biologists weigh/measure (tranquillized) bears. Never seen a grizzly.


      • Awesome! Good luck. I think we hiked to Grinnell Glacier 2 years ago when we were there. No bears on the trail–just lots roaming around the mountain across from Many Glacier Lodge , and a few on the road into the lodge.

        IMHO, Yellowstone and Yosemite are much cooler parks. I found Glacier to be kind of a disappointment–hiking not better (actually worse) than our local NP, Rocky, after a two day drive? Fuggedaboutit. Yellowstone’s only a one-day drive from us, and Yosemite less than a day from L.A. The bears were the best thing about Glacier, although the fly fishing in the lake at Many Glacier was good, and the badger or beaver swimming around made it very scenic.


  4. I saw a fairly sizeable black bear in the water at its edge on the PA side of the Delaware River in Delaware Water Gap NRA many years ago while I was fishing a few hundred feet below where she was. I was trying to signal my buddy about a hundred yards below me without triggering some kind of a charge by Ursa Majoris. But she just gazed at me, then swam across the river–which is not incredibly wide that far up–climbed the bank on the New Jersey side (which is quite wilder than PA in that area), shook off a hail of water, and plunged fearlessly into the Garden State. Pretty awesome to a tenderfoot. It was good to be reminded of this long gone episode!


  5. Bummer that Glacier NP hike a disappointment. Since it was part of a larger road trip for me (with in-laws so not tons of hiking), the hike was spectacular and hit what I was looking for — 1) glacier in Glacier NP before projected demise circa 2020, 2) cool rocks in addition to the glacial geology (1.2 billion year old fossils & mud cracks), and 3) got to see a moose for the first time (they’ve eluded me in my homeland of New England).

    Both Yellowstone & Yosemite are terrific parks. I was lucky enough to visit Yosemite ~4x related to PhD research (project was a dead-end but got me to Yosemite!). I think next time I’m in CA, I’d like to hit Sequoia/Kings Canyon. Did you have a chance to check those out while in CA?

    My previous Yellowstone visit was the same summer (geology field camp!) as my previous Glacier visit back in 2000. Yellowstone is highest on my list of places to revisit (since I got to do Glacier and the Beartooth Pass/Mountains on this trip).

    Have been to the Front Range several times in the last few years but haven’t done Rocky Mtn NP, in part since all my friends who live on the Front Range currently have young children.


    • Yeah, given your specialty I’m sure you find all kinds of geologic interest wherever you go. But Yosemite, because Yosemite! Seeing the Grinnell Glacier in Glacier N.P was cool, b/c as you say, it may not be there too much longer. I was personally disappointed that traversing Glacier into Waterton Lakes N.P. in Canada was such a pain in the butt. You have to exit Glacier and drive all the way around–and hiking over the border is a long-distance, multiple day hike from Glacier.

      Glacier wasn’t a “bummer”–just kind of a short slide after a long, long run, and when you live w/i a day’s drive to the spectacular National Parks I can get to. . .


  6. BTW, looking forward to your book! Grew up in western Mass & history was my 2nd major in undergrad. So visited Historic(?) Deerfield for middle/high school history classes, read a J. Demos book in one of my US history classes, and know a little about the period.


  7. Pingback: Bear season, Colorado and royal castle-style | Historiann

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