Boulder, Colorado, is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, making it a prime habitat for various wildlife, including black bears. Each year, Boulder experiences what locals refer to as “bear season,” a period during which bear sightings become more frequent, especially in the fall. This seasonal increase in bear activity can be attributed to a combination of natural factors and human behavior.

One of the primary reasons for the surge in bear sightings in the fall is related to the bears’ biological rhythms. As the temperatures drop and daylight hours decrease, bears enter a phase known as hyperphagia, which is marked by an insatiable appetite. During this time, bears actively forage for food to accumulate fat reserves for the upcoming winter hibernation. In Boulder, this often involves bears seeking out easily accessible food sources in urban and suburban areas.

black bear on green grass during daytime

Another contributing factor to the increased bear activity in the fall is the availability of food. Natural food sources, such as berries and acorns, become scarcer as autumn progresses, driving bears to explore alternative options, including trash cans, bird feeders, and unsecured food in homes. This behavior puts bears in closer proximity to human-populated areas, leading to more sightings.

To ensure the safety of both residents and bears during this season, it’s essential to follow some key guidelines:

  1. Secure Trash: Use bear-resistant trash cans or dumpsters and only put trash out on the morning of pickup.
  2. Store Food Properly: Keep pet food indoors, and store food items in airtight containers. Don’t leave food scraps or dirty dishes outside.
  3. Remove Bird Feeders: Bird feeders can attract bears. Remove them during bear season.
  4. Fruit Trees: If you have fruit trees, pick fruit promptly and remove any fallen fruit from the ground.
  5. Keep a Safe Distance: If you encounter a bear, stay calm, and don’t approach it. Back away slowly, and do not run.
  6. Hiking and Camping: Make noise while hiking to alert bears to your presence. When camping, store food in bear-resistant containers and follow established guidelines for bear safety.
  7. Educate Neighbors: Encourage your neighbors to take bear safety precautions as well.
  8. Report Sightings: If you spot a bear in your neighborhood, report it to local authorities or wildlife agencies, who can take appropriate actions.
  9. Bear-Proof Your Home: Consider installing electric fencing or motion-activated lights to deter bears from approaching your property.

By following these guidelines, residents can help mitigate conflicts between bears and humans, reducing the risk of dangerous encounters and ensuring the well-being of both the local bear population and the Boulder community. Bear season in Boulder is a reminder of the importance of coexisting harmoniously with wildlife in this picturesque mountain town.