Supplemental Feed Vs Food Plots

This is very well done so I just reposted:

It is very easy to get caught up in the idea of supplemental feeding your deer herd, the image of big bucks roaming your hunting grounds is enough to cloud anyone’s judgment. But in order to get those big bucks out of your dreams and into the crosshairs of your scope you need to research what the professionals and leaders of the industry are doing to produce big bucks. If you look at all the top producing whitetail ranches in the nation I think you will see that a vast majority of them are using protein feeds as their method of supplementation. Why would all these ranches use protein feeds instead of just food plots as their method of supplementation? I believe the following will help shed some light on that question.

The two most common and best ways to increase the protein intake of a deer herd is either protein feeds or food plots. Despite some rhetoric, both methods are considered supplemental feeding deer. Food plots are the latest and most current fad in deer management. Like all fads, food plots may not be for everyone. Food plots have many drawbacks that most people are not aware of. For example, the first step in creating a food plot is to destroy and clear all native vegetation on that piece of ground. Destroying native vegetation usually means destroying deer habitat (in most cases you are replacing that native vegetation with a non-native plant). Once these areas have been cleared it destroys ecological succession, and that area may never return to its original state. On the other hand, protein feeds do not require the destruction of native vegetation in order to implement a supplementation program. Most people just put up a free choice gravity flow feeder that the deer have access to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This avenue of supplementation does not destroy any acreage of natural habitat and most people do not even hunt over the protein feeder. Why, you might ask? Because that feeder is there to increase the protein intake of the deer…it is not there to attract deer to a location so that they can be killed. You cannot say the same about a food plot with a deer stand at end of it. With protein feeds, the manager just places a feeder in the desired area and the deer continue to mutually use and benefit from both native vegetation and protein feeds.Most seed companies recommend you plant in fertile, black soils, which retains moisture during dry periods of the year. It is no coincidence that the soil types they recommend you to place your food plot in are the exact same soils that usually produce the most productive native plant species for deer. If you chose not to plant in the most fertile of soil types, then you are faced with the extra cost of fertilizer or the inevitability of rotating your food plot crop to different sections every year. Without fertilization or rotation, your food plot faces the strong possibility that the plant grown will not actually exhibit the nutrient content that the manufactures states it is capable of under ideal conditions. Alternatively, most protein feeds come with a guaranteed analysis from the manufacturer. This guaranteed analysis assures the deer manager that his/her deer are receiving the exact nutrients at the exact proper levels, regardless of weather patterns or soil fertility.

Another subject that seed companies fail to mention…is that size matters. The size of the food plot is one of most important aspects about creating a food plot and surprisingly it is rarely discussed. It is not a great leap of logic to understand that if a food plot is to significantly increase the overall nutrition of the entire deer herd, it has to be large enough to not only provide food for each and every deer in the herd, but to also provide enough food to significantly increase their nutritional status. In other words, if you have 100 deer in your area you can hardly expect a 5-acre food plot to provide enough nutrition to significantly increase the overall health of your deer herd. Let’s study this example further; each deer will eat approximately 1.5 – 3 lbs of food each day. By multiplying the number of deer in your area times the pounds of food each deer eats per day, we can conservatively deduce that the food plot would have to produce 150 lbs of food per day. Some food plot crops, of course, can actually do this. However, can it be done on just 5 acres and can it be done without the ideal weather conditions?

Even if a food plot is planted in the perfect soil type, at the perfect depth, with the perfect equipment, at the perfect time of year, the food plot still could not produce. Without proper amounts and timing of rain the ideal planting conditions for a food plot are meaningless. As Dr. Kroll has noted on many occasions, the manager must plant both warm and cool season food plots; something most areas cannot support. In the North, frozen ground and snow prevent plant growth for up to seven months; while in the South; high summer temperatures and low rainfall prohibit crop production at a critical time. Hence, there always is a need for supplemental protein feeds. Dr. Kroll calls pelleted feeds, “rainfall in a bag.” According to Dr. Kroll pelleted rations allow deer to “top off the tank” whenever they need added nutrition.

During a drought most plants, native and non-native, have limited growth and exhibit less than desirable nutrient levels. Droughts can create the food plot planter’s worst nightmare, double jeopardy. Double jeopardy refers to the failure of a food plot, both nutritionally and monetarily. Double jeopardy is when a food plot fails to produce enough high protein food to significantly affect the deer herd, which in turn renders the manager’s money investment into the food plot meaningless. This Double jeopardy can be caused by numerous events but usually the cause is either climatic or an incorrect planting procedure. Double jeopardy is very unfortunate to the person relying on food plots to elevate his/her deer herds nutritional status, because during droughts and other extreme climatic events are when a deer herd needs that extra supplementation the most. Extreme climatic events are the true test of any supplementation program. While in route to completing my master’s degree, I once had a wildlife professor tell me that if something is true, then it should also be true when it is subjected to infinite proportions. What he meant by this was, if anything is true it should remain true in the most extreme possible conditions.

By applying this statement to the subject at hand the argument becomes clearer. No one is arguing that under the right conditions a food plot can benefit a deer herd. However, will it benefit a deer herd if you experience a drought, flood, extreme heat, extreme cold or a variation/combination of all the above? This statement may seem out of place in an article about supplemental feeding, but I think it enlightens us to the conclusion that food plots can not be depended on to consistently provide your deer herd with increased levels of protein during all possible climatic conditions. Conversely, using protein feeds, as your method of supplementation requires no destruction of native plants, no expensive farm equipment, no extensive knowledge of farming practices, and assures you that your deer herd will be provided with optimal nutrition during all possible seasons and climatic conditions.

The last and most sensitive subject in the debate of pellets vs. plots is morality. There are some people stating that food plots are the natural way to increase your deer herd’s nutritional status. One of the most common sentiments I hear on the subject is that food plots are more ethical than pouring protein feeds out of a bag. Whenever I am confronted with this statement, I gently remind that person that if they really think about it, food plots come from a bag too. That, of course, is the emotional approach, however emotions do not change the facts. And the facts about pellets vs. plots are that they are both unnatural. Of course the next obvious question is, at what degree of unnaturalness does a method become wrong. To complicate things even further I will draw an analogy, a glass of water is either pure or contaminated. It can have one drop of arsenic in it or it could be ¾ full of arsenic, it doesn’t matter how much arsenic is mixed in, the water is still contaminated.

So as you can see there is no clear right or wrong on this subject. What I believe a person must do is weigh all the evidence and find what works best for them, both nutritionally and economically. We can assume that the top producing whitetail ranches have done just that. Most of these are ranches are in the commercial hunting industry and are in the business of consistently producing record class animals. By researching the management techniques of these ranches, I believe you will see that a high percentage of them use protein feeds in some form or fashion. Of course, there are plenty of tremendous bucks taken on lands that do not use protein pellets or do not have a supplemental feeding program at all. However, take a look at the ranches that consistently produce huge bucks year after year, those are ranches you want to learn from.

Once a deer manager has decided to use a supplemental feeding program to help his/her deer herd, that manager must also decide which method of supplementation fits best into their management program. By researching and evaluating the facts before making a decision, you might just get those big bucks out of your dreams and into your crosshairs.

Written By:
Don Draeger
Wildlife Biologist
Legends Ranch

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Death in the Brush Country

Death in the Brush Country
by Mickey W. Hellickson, Ph. D.
As soon as I dialed in the radio frequency to buck #0083 and picked-up the antenna, I knew the 6.5-year-old buck was dead. Instead of hearing the characteristic beep….beep….beep from his collar, I heard a signal that was twice as fast, beep, beep, beep, beep. I jumped down from the truck bed and walked in the direction where the signal was strongest. After walking only 100 yards, there he was. His tall-tined rack, with trailing skeleton, stood out like a sore thumb in the open brush country.  It was still March, only three months into my telemetry study, and already nine of the 44 bucks that we had captured the previous October had died! None of these bucks were killed by hunters, so why were they dying? 

Most hunters would be surprised to learn that 10-30% of all bucks in south Texas die each year due to natural causes alone, which does not include bucks dying from hunting-related causes. Dr. Charles DeYoung, at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, was one of the first scientists to discover this alarmingly high natural mortality rate.  Dr. DeYoung and his assistants captured 282 bucks on four different ranches in south Texas from 1984-87. On two of these ranches, 53 bucks were radio collared with special, mortality-sensing transmitters that allowed the researchers to tell if the buck was dead or alive by the pulse rate of the radio signal. These bucks were monitored an average of once every 11 days from an airplane.

Whenever a bucks radio signal indicated that he was dead, researchers walked in on foot to locate the buck and try to determine what caused the bucks death. Twenty-three of these 53 bucks died during the study. The cause of death could not be determined for 10 of the bucks. Three bucks were killed by coyotes and two bucks were killed by mountain lions. The majority of the bucks that died on one of the ranches, died during the post-rut between late December and March.

Shortly after this study was completed, a second study was started to determine if a coyote-control program could increase buck survival during the post-rut. This study began in 1987 and lasted three years. I arrived in Texas to complete the third year of research.  Again, we captured and radio collared bucks on four different areas of two ranches. However, on two of these four areas, we did everything we could to remove as many coyotes as possible from January-June of each year. We removed an average of 107 coyotes from each of the two areas each year of the study.

We then monitored the survival of the bucks on the four areas to see if our coyote control had any benefit. Coyotes killed seven bucks. Five of these bucks were killed on the two areas of each ranch where coyotes were not controlled and removed. However, we did not see any difference in the number of bucks, or the age structure of bucks, during fall helicopter surveys. If our coyote removal was keeping bucks alive, it wasnt increasing buck survival to the point that additional bucks were appearing in our annual helicopter surveys. The final conclusion was that buck survival did not increase enough to justify the expense related to the intensive coyote removal.

Shortly after completing this second study, I began work on a third telemetry study on one of these same two ranches toward my doctorate degree at The University of Georgia. The purpose of this additional study was to measure home range size, behaviors, and movement patterns among bucks of different ages. We captured and radio collared 125 bucks, ranging in age from 1.5-11.5 years, from 1992-94. Eleven different assistants and I used radio telemetry to track the movements of these bucks on a daily basis year-round for three years.

During the first year of my study, 11 bucks died of natural causes. During 1993, 10 bucks died of natural causes, and during 1994, eight bucks died of natural causes. Twenty-nine of the 125 bucks (23%) died of natural causes over the three years of the study.  When I looked at these data based on the mortality rates by age class, I found that young bucks and old bucks had the highest natural mortality rates. Yearling bucks (1.5 years old) had the highest natural mortality rate at 37%. The next highest natural mortality rates were found in 9.5-year-old bucks (33%), followed by 8.5 (27%) and 7.5-year-old bucks (25%). The lowest natural mortality rates were found in 4.5-year-old bucks (1%) and 5.5-year-old bucks (6%). Bucks 2.5-years-old (7%), 3.5-years-old (20%), and 6.5-years-old (8%) had intermediate mortality rates.  Amazingly, 77% (20/26) of these bucks died during the post-rut between January and March of each year, with most deaths occurring in January (11).

WHY DO SO MANY BUCKS DIE DURING THE POST-RUT?
The most accepted theory is that bucks are extremely malnourished at this time of the year due to the rigors of the rut. During the course of the rut from November through early January, bucks lose up to 30% of their body weight. They are so intent on spending every possible moment in search of does that are in heat that they basically quit eating in early November. By the time the rut has ended many of these bucks have lost so much weight that they cannot recover and either die of malnutrition and disease, or they are killed by coyotes.

Surprisingly, in penned deer studies, where bucks are isolated in small pens and provided unlimited, highly nutritious feed, bucks still voluntarily decrease food intake and lose weight during the rut!  Coyotes, at this same time of the year, travel in packs. Working in combination with other coyotes, they drag these worn-out bucks to the ground. Even mature bucks are susceptible to coyotes during the post-rut. Dr. DeYoung, while conducting telemetry studies on the Welder Wildlife Refuge in the 1970’s, actually had coyotes kill one of his radio-collared bucks as he was tracking it!

Another theory that may explain some of the deaths was investigated by the Southeast Wildlife Disease Unit at The University of Georgia. These researchers discovered that around 10% of bucks in the Southeastern U.S. die each year from brain abscesses during the post-rut. Bucks that repeatedly fight with other bucks, as well as bucks that make high numbers of rubs during the rut, eventually rub their foreheads to the point that the skin is broken open. This break later causes an infection that allows bacteria through the skin. Once inside, these bacteria literally eat their way through the brain case of the buck. The bacteria most often tunnel through one of the fissure lines in the skull, eventually leading to the bucks death. Unfortunately, this disease affects predominantly older-aged bucks because they often make rubs in higher numbers than younger bucks.

In order to determine if brain abscesses were causing mortality in south Texas bucks, graduate student Chris Baumann traveled from Georgia to examine as many skulls as possible from bucks that had died of natural causes. Chris examined all of the buck skulls from my study, as well as 100s of additional Texas buck skulls but did not find a single incidence of brain abscesses. Thankfully, the researchers concluded that Texas warm and dry climate made it difficult for the bacteria to survive in our state.

More recently, graduate student Gabriel Karns traveled from North Carolina State University to the King Ranch to examine live bucks captured during our annual helicopter-net gun deer capture. Gabriel used cotton swabs to swab the forehead area of each captured buck. These swabs were later tested to determine if any brain abscess bacteria were present. Fortunately, Gabriel found no evidence of the bacteria from the swabs, confirming the results of Chris earlier study. Amazingly, 35% of Gabriels radio-collared bucks on Chesapeake Farms in Maryland died from brain abscesses and 62% of mortalities in bucks four years old and older were caused by brain abscesses. South Texas landowners, managers, and hunters should be thankful the bacteria cannot survive in our environment otherwise successful trophy management would be even more difficult!

WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS RESEARCH MEAN?
First, managing for mature, trophy bucks is not very efficient because many bucks will die each year of natural causes. To illustrate this, lets start with a population of 100 six-month-old buck fawns. Our buck mortality research indicates

  • that an average of 46% of buck fawns will die of natural causes from December-May, reducing the buck population to only 54 1.5-year-old bucks.
  • that an average of 37% of 1.5-year-old bucks will die of natural causes so, after the second year the buck population has decreased to only 34 2.5-year-old bucks.
  • that an average of 7% of 2.5-year-old bucks die each year, knocking the population down to 32 3.5-year-old bucks.
  • that 20% of 3.5-year-old bucks die of natural causes, so we are now left with 26 4.5-year-old bucks. Natural mortality in 4.5-year-old bucks is the lowest of any age class (1%) and all 26 bucks survive to age 5.5. Of the 26 5.5-year-old bucks, 6% will die before reaching age 6.5.
  • Therefore, only 24 bucks, out of the original 100 buck fawns, will survive to age 6.5, the age at which antler growth peaks.

This shockingly high rate of natural mortality means that without any hunting at all, 76 of 100 buck fawns will die before age 6.5! Ranch owners, managers, and hunters interested in managing for mature, trophy bucks need to realize that in south Texas the majority of bucks will die of natural causes before reaching maturity.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO INCREASE BUCK SURVIVAL?
What can ranchers and managers do to increase buck survival, especially during the post-rut? Past research clearly shows that

  • intensive coyote control methods can increase fawn survival. Therefore, as a minimum, as many coyotes as possible should be removed prior to and during the peak fawning months of June-August
  • coyote control does not significantly increase survival of adult bucks, so coyote control during the post-rut probably will not help.


An additional likely solution to the high rate of natural mortality during the post-rut, is to

  • increase the quantity and quality of the nutrition available to bucks from January-March.  The nutritional level of the natural vegetation reaches a low point during late winter, further stressing bucks that are already worn out from participating in the rut. These bucks then have to suffer through late winter eating browse that is often low in nutrition. Not until spring green-up are these bucks able to regain the weight lost during the previous rut.


LATEST BUCK MORTALITY STUDY
More recently, graduate student Stephen Webb monitored the survival rates of 48 radio-collared bucks on the Callaghan Ranch in Webb County. This ranch provides supplemental feed on a limited basis to the deer herd. In addition, during the last two years of Stephens study the ranch received above-average rainfall.

Apparently, the presence of

  • supplemental feed combined with the wet conditions greatly increased buck survival.

Stephen found

  • an average annual survival rate of 88% (only 12% mortality rate). In addition,
    • he found that 52% of bucks radio collared as yearlings, survived to six years old.

These encouraging results clearly indicate that improved nutrition, either through providing supplemental feed or increased rainfall, results in higher buck survival. Stephen and his co-investigators concluded that:

  • a large percentage of bucks can reach the mature age class under trophy management and be available for harvest.


REFERENCES
Baumann, C. D. & W. R. Davidson. 1998. An evaluation of intracranial abscesses among white-tailed deer. [Abstract] Southeast Deer Study Group 21:34.

DeYoung, C. A. 1989. Mortality of adult male white-tailed deer in south Texas. Journal of Wildlife Management 53:513-518.

Karns, G. R., R. A. Lancia, C. S. DePerno, M. C. Conner, & M. S. Stoskopf. 2009. Intracranial abscessation as a natural mortality factor in adult male white-tailed deer. [Abstract]  Southeast Deer Study Group 32:21.

Webb, S. L., D. G. Hewitt, & M. W. Hellickson. 2007. Survival and cause-specific mortality of mature male white-tailed deer. Journal of Wil


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What’s So Great About Youth Hunts?

I was asked this question recently and it kind of set me back in my chair.  The man who asked the question was a fellow hunter and at first I just looked at him.  It seemed like a minute, but it was probably a few seconds, and then I started in on him.  Not in a bad way, but somewhat to my surprise I got fired up and with passion.  I told him what youth hunts mean to me.

I asked him if he remembered his first deer.  He said he did and that it was some forty years ago.  Do you remember where you were? Do you remember what the deer blind looked like? Do you remember the weather being clear, cold and breezy? Do you remember how far away the deer was when you shot? Do you remember which way it ran and how far it ran?  Do you remember walking up to it and thinking how small it was but how excited you were to get your first deer?  He told me he remembered it all as if it happened yesterday.  I had to agree because I can still see it as if it just happened.

I was around ten and have been hunting with my dad and grandfather since we could walk and now it was time to go it alone.  We had a ranch west of Austin on Nameless Road and at the time this was an appropriate name for this little country road.  I was sitting in a box blind, a 4 by  4 plywood box with flip-up windows on all sides.  It was not very cold that day and it was clear and sunny.  I was looking out onto the side of a hill that went off into a draw to my right.  When I first saw the deer they were a ways off but coming my way.  I got my Browning .243 with a Redfield scope up and rested it on the window ledge for a better look.  I knew it was a buck by the way it walked and it was lagging behind the other deer.  I put the scope on it to get a better look and then it got real crazy.  My heart was pounding, I started shaking, my breathing got harder and I was having a hard time trying to focus the scope — buck fever, big time!  When the buck got within a hundred yards, I could wait no longer.  He was broadside, standing still just looking around and I tried to settle down.  I put the crosshairs behind the shoulder and started squeezing the trigger just like I had been taught and practiced so many times.  The gun goes off, I know I made a good shot, but the little buck takes off running.  I had not worked on running shots and frankly I was so pumped up that I probably could not have hit the side of the hill at this point so I watched as my buck ran out of site.  Now what do I do?  I could go back to the cabin and get some help or go find it myself.  You know what I did for sure.  I got out of the blind and walked (very fast) over to where the buck was standing when I shot and saw no blood. Now what?  I knew which way he ran, so I started walking and then found the blood.  Boy was I excited!  I found him with little trouble and there he lay.  I had to move his ears to see the antlers.  He was a very small three point, but man was he a trophy to me.  I laid my gun down on him and then ran non-stop all the way back to the cabin.  I have a twenty-three inch wide thirteen point that is not as exciting as that deer is to this day.  My thirteen pointer is special because I was with my dad when I got him.

Then I told this gentleman about some of the youth hunts that I have been a part of, like the time the young black boy was on his first deer hunt.  When this doe showed up and I pointed it out to him, he got so excited that he hyperventilated right there in the blind.  I had to get him to breathe into his jacket to regain composure.  I am not sure I have ever seen a young man and his father that excited.  I only mention that he was a black boy because black people can just make expressions that us white folks just can not do.  If  I could bottle that, I would be a rich man.  What about the time out turkey hunting with two search and rescue fighters / EMT’s and their kids when they were set up with a father and son on one side, and a father and daughter next to them behind a mesh camo netting. The daughter was sitting in front of her dad and leaned back onto his chest sleeping in the comfort and security of her daddy.  I was sitting back in the brush behind them calling and had a view of them, the decoy out front and a beautiful field of wildflowers and monster oaks in the background.  What about the numerous times sitting around the Saturday night campfire when a youth hunter tells us that this is the most time ever spent with their mom or dad?  What about the time a father, mother and single child sat in the blind together and witnessed the daughter’s first deer harvest?  And then the grandfather that was with his granddaughter when she took her first and second deer on the same day.

I get to relive my childhood over and over again through these wonderful youth and it is a blessing beyond measure.

What about you?  What do you do for the next generation of leaders in the country?  This is our future and you need to be a part of it.  That could be as a land owner, a Huntmaster, a volunteer, a cook team member, a mom or dad with a young person or maybe a sponsor that can help offset the cost of the youth hunts.  Whatever it is, I hope you get involved and do it sooner than later.  Thank you for reading my story and I look forward to hearing yours.

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10 Best Cities for the Next Decade – Kiplinger

10 Best Cities for the Next Decade – Kiplinger.

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56,000 Acres, 200 Feet Wide, 2,300 Miles Long?

Dear Friends,

 Via the link below, you will find five videos. Each is a little over 4 minutes in length. Please take 20 minutes, or so, out of your busy schedules and watch each one.

 While wind energy is green, its transmission infrastructure is not. The Legislature decreed 2,300 miles of 345 kV lines be built to carry wind energy from West Texas to consumers along the I-35 corridor and eastward. The routing process is running roughshod over the very environment it purports to protect, not to mention the heritages of the land stewards who find themselves “in the way.”

 Some of the first lines to be built will cut through the open space of the Texas Hill Country, one of the state’s most well known natural environments. Area residents, as part of the Clear View Alliance (CVA) and others such as the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), are working to make sure that, if the infrastructure is proven necessary, the 18-story high lines are sited so they do the least amount of ecological damage. Citizens are asking the Public Utility Commission to site the lines along existing rights-of-way and to use monopoles instead of the giant 4-legged lattice towers to protect the views. TWA and CVA are also fighting to ensure that affected landowners are justly compensated.

 Please take a few minutes and to help save Texas’ open space by:
1) Watching these videos on Texas Hill Country Transmission 
2) Sending your comments.
3) Passing this link and this opportunity on to others.

 Although this particular transmission line is confined to the Hill Country, it has the potential to set important precedents for proposed green energy transmission lines across the state. That’s why CVA and TWA have agreed to help spread the word to you – our valued supporters. Please take the time to view these videos, and then, please take action by letting your opinions be heard by our state’s leaders.

 The only thing standing between this sort of industrialization of our open space lands is us. The more people who speak up and stand up, the more likely that future generations of Texans will be able to enjoy our legendary wide-open spaces.  Please send this important message to other individuals and groups whose members might help in this timely effort.

 Thanks for all you do to conserve our natural resources and the heritages of our family lands.

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MAN INJURED BY BEAR IN PARK COUNTY

BAILEY, Colo. – A 51 year-old Bailey man who discovered a bear in his home early Thursday morning suffered bite wounds when he approached the animal in his basement in an effort to make it leave. The 320-pound male bear was later shot and killed.

According to wildlife officers, the family heard sounds in their kitchen soon after midnight on Thursday morning and quickly determined that a bear had entered the home.  The homeowner attempted to monitor the bear’s whereabouts and was bit as the bear tried to get past him.

Responding alongside deputies from the Park County Sheriff’s Office, a Division of Wildlife Officer located the bear outside the home and killed it.

“The instructions we give our Wildlife Officers is clear – public safety is our first priority,” said Reid DeWalt, Area Wildlife Manager.  “Bears that enter homes are a threat to public safety. When we’re dealing with aggressive or habituated wildlife, people come first.”

The victim was taken to Swedish Medical Center in Littleton and released early this morning.

Most conflicts between people and bears involve some sort of food source.  In this case, wildlife officers said the door to a garage containing accessible trash and a refrigerator was open. In addition, officers reported that the door from the garage into the home appeared to be not latching correctly.  The DOW reminds Colorado residents that bears can smell food from miles away, be it birdfeed, pet food, a greasy barbeque grill grate or accessible refuse and that bears which become habitatuated to people will seek such food sources out.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife recommends the following:

If a wild animal enters your home, leave and call for help. Animals who feel cornered or threatened are a threat to humans or pets.

Make your property safe by keeping garbage out of reach and smell of bears. Use bear-proof trash containers. Be sure garbage cans are emptied regularly. Periodically clean garbage cans to reduce residual odor—using hot water and chlorine bleach, or by burning trash residue in cans. Store trash in a bear proof enclosure. Contact the Division of Wildlife for designs.

Lock all ground-level windows and doors. Bears are smart—when they learn that homes contain food, they may try to enter.

If you have pets, do not store their food or feed them outside. Clean your BBQ grill of grease and store inside. Hang bird seed, suet and hummingbird feeders on a wire between trees instead of on your deck or porch. Bring all bird feeders in at night. Do not put fruit, melon rinds and other tasty items in mulch or compost piles.

Most bears sighted in residential areas within bear habitat do not cause any damage. If a bear doesn’t find abundant food, it will move on.

Aggressive bear attacks are rare, but encounters such as this one have increased as Colorado’s population grows.  The bear population has not increased, but the number of people living, working and recreating in bear country has.

There are no definite rules about what to do if you meet a bear.  In most cases, bears avoid confrontations with people.

Here are some suggestions if you see a bear:

–Stay calm.  If you see a bear and it has not seen you, calmly leave the area.  As you move away, make noise to let the bear discover your presence.

–Stop.  Back away slowly while facing the bear.  Avoid direct eye contact, as bears may perceive this as a threat.

–Give the bear plenty of room to escape.  Bears rarely attack people unless they feel threatened or provoked.

–Do not run.  If on a trail, step off the trail on the downhill side and slowly move away.  Do not run or make any sudden movements.  Running is likely to prompt the bear to give chase, and you cannot outrun a bear.

–Speak softly.  This may reassure the bear that you mean it no harm.  Try not to show fear.

–If a black bear attacks you, use tools such as rocks, sticks, binoculars and even their bare hands to defend yourself.  Aim for the nose or eyes if possible.

For more information on bear proofing your home and other ways to deter bears in your neighborhood, visit http://www.wildlife.state.co.us/bears.

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