Black Bear Encounters

| 11/3/2015 9:58:00 AM

Tags: black bears, bears, wildlife, Bruce McElmurray, Colorado,


We have lived full time in the Sangre de Christo mountains for 18+ years full time. During that time, we have had more encounters with black bears than I can count. Our experience has taught us that they are good and respectful neighbors. We read about how they are so dangerous and to be avoided, but our experience has been the opposite.

If our human neighbors were as respectful and considerate as bears, this could be one of the best places ever to live. We do not believe our mountain has an official name, but most call it Bear Mountain. We hear the stories about how aggressive black bears can be, but we have not found that to be true. My comments on black bears do not come from any level of being a professional animal behaviorist but instead from personal experience.

Our Encounters with Bears

We read on social media a cute quip that said “anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; except bears, bears will kill you.” That doesn’t represent what we have observed about bears in our numerous encounters. We actually had a mother bear raise her cubs at our home, and even though we encountered her and her cubs on a regular basis, we had no unfavorable encounters. (See photo.)

She sat down once about 20 feet from us and used the contact to train her cubs. After about 20 minutes, we both parted ways without incident and her cubs were a little smarter. Another time, I opened the door to find a bear standing up at the storm door trying to see into the house. We were about 8 inches apart, nose to nose, and we were both surprised with only a flimsy pane of glass separating us. I closed the door and the bear ambled away. Had I become excited and yelled for the bear to go away, I’m not sure the outcome would have been the same. We have observed that they have poor eyesight and are curious animals.

It seems to me that many problems are human-initiated by people getting excited, moving fast, trying to get too close or by feeding the bears. These are highly intelligent animals that will take advantage of free food when possible. We can tell when a bear has been fed by other people as they will come closer to us and hang around looking for a hand out.

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