Crystal Wildlife

Today, members of the community are asked to effectively maintain a "neighborhood watch" program for bears which includes following the guidance on this webpage, watching for signs of bear break-ins, and reporting bear sightings to the Office.  

History of the Crystal Lakes Bear Aware Team

The Crystal Lakes Bear Aware Team was formed by the Colorado Department of Wildlife in 2005. At that time, bear break-ins in the Crystal Lakes area exceeded 100 per year. The average cost of a break-in was $1,800, with a total estimated cost to the community of more than $150,000 per year.

The goal of the Bear Aware Team, which is comprised of Crystal Lakes community members acting as Department of Wildlife volunteers, is to teach property owners about how to live with wildlife and to apply proven techniques to reduce human/bear interaction. The Team has had excellent success, encouraging property owners to "keep a clean camp," leaving nothing out (such as bird feeders) that will attract bears, and to use tools proven effective to discourage bears from breaking in to campers and cabins.

The year the Bear Aware Team was created saw 122 documented break-ins by the end of bear season in the fall. In 2006, that number dropped to 13. By 2007, the worst year on record for human/bear conflicts in Colorado, the Crystal Lakes area saw no break-ins at all. Crystal Lakes is now recognized as a model of community action, and programs around the country are being put into place to model the success achieved by the Crystal Lakes Bear Aware Team.

 

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. So please, get the information you need on living, vacationing, and spending time outdoors in bear country, and share it with your friends, neighbors, and community.

Helpful Hints

Keep bears wild and out of structures at Crystal Lakes!  Bears can cause significant damage to buildings.  Bears enter structures because they have learned that they can find food there.  Prevent bears from trying to enter your building:

1. Scare away all bears near buildings or in yards:

  • Air horn
  • Bang on pots and pans
  • Yell
  • Throw rocks
  • Use pepper spray (carefully - don't spray upwind or near other people!)
  • Motion sensor with noise - radio or barking dog sound
  • ** Use a variety of methods **

2. Keep the area around your buildings free of anything that would attract bears.

  • No garbage outside!  Keep waste storage areas clean.
  • Feed birds only in winter, from November 15 to May 1. Hummingbird feeders are okay, but bring them in every evening at dusk.
  • Store pet food in airtight container inside.
  • Clean BBQ grills with bleach solution after each use.
  • Keep all horse food in a bear proof container such as a locked metal job box.
  • Feeding big game (deer and elk) is illegal in Colorado, as is failing to remove any items that are an attractant to black bear, coyote, or fox.

3. Take all potential food items out of buildings (including trailers) when you leave.

  • Don't leave any human or pet food, including cans and "airtight" containers.
  • Remove all cosmetics.
  • Clean stove/oven vents, including filter and fans.

4. Secure doors and windows, and use bear deterrents as necessary.  Close and lock any accessible windows and doors when you're not home.

  • Replace louvered windows if possible.
  • Use "Unwelcome Mats" under windows and in front of doors.
  • Keep garage doors closed at all times. Install good quality round handled door knobs on all outside doors. Sturdy metal doors are best.
  • Trim all tree limbs which may provide access to upper level decks/windows.
  • Use electric fencing to protect your trailer and/or entire yard.

It's up to US - Crystal Lakes residents - to keep bears wild.  

Bear Unwelcome Mats

Bear unwelcome mats are half or full sheets of sturdy plywood with screws or nails sticking up every couple of inches spaced 1 to two inches apart. Use the palm of your hand to gage the spacing.

Properly constructed, they cause instant pain if a bear attempts to walk over the mat to reach a door or window, but do no permanent damage to the bear.

To be effective on a black bear, the nails or screws should stick out of the board no more than ½" - ¾". The objective is to cause the bear enough pain to abandon its approach, not to cripple or injure it.

Galvanized roofing nails have big heads that don't bend or twist under the weight of a bear paw. Carpet tack strips are sharp, evenly spaced and easy to work with. Drywall screws are effective because they're very sharp and easier to use than nails.

 

It’s important that the mat fully cover the entire area in front of the doors or windows where the bear is trying to gain entry. If it’s on a deck, screw or tack it down so the bear can’t shove it out of the way.

If it’s on the ground, pound two 18” sections of rebar in each corner facing out so the bear can’t flip the mat over or shove it out of the way, or drill holes in the front two corners and pound in long spikes with sturdy heads. Your objective is to “nail down” the mat so the bear can’t move it.

Cautions:  Pets, other wildlife and small children can’t read – be sure you’ve thought about who or what might be dropping by your place before you roll out the unwelcome mat.

Unwelcome mats are commonly used when people don’t have to get in and out all the time – at vacation homes, for instance, or intermittently used campers or mobile homes. They can also be used as a temporary, short-term measure to deter a specific bear from returning.

Electric Fencing

Electric fencing has been used by many property owners as an effective bear deterrent and protection for campers and trailers. See below for links to several useful websites.

 

Use of Electric Fencing to Exclude Bears (Florida)

 

Electric Fencing for Black Bears (Virginia)

 

Protecting Your Camp from Bears: Electric Fencing (Alaska)

Bear Websites

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