Ear to the ground:

“Men have besticles.”
– Local man discussing the male alternative to the BFF

It ain’t over

With the temperature dropping and winter on Durango’s doorstep, it might seem like the bears have all bedded down for the season. But, in fact, many of them are still out and about.

According to Heather Johnson, who’s heading up a six-year bear study with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, only half of the bears she’s tracking had hit the hay as of last week.

As a result, it’s also probably still a good idea to keep pet food, trash and other items locked safely away. Same goes for that rotting pumpkin on the front stoop. Not only is the accumulated mold a potential public health hazard, but trick or treaters aren’t the only thing those jack-o-lanterns happen to attract.

If the thought of tossing your work of art onto the trash heap is “unbearable,” BearSmart, in conjunction with the City of Durango, CSU Extension and Healthy Community Food Systems, is providing a free pumpkin drop-off Mon., Nov. 9, from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the parking lot near the Santa Rita Park playground. The discarded pumpkins will go on to have a nice life somewhere on a ranch, where they will become livestock food (sorry). All pumpkins must be free of candles, wax, paint or bleach to be accepted.

As for sleepy time, Johnson predicts most bears will go down for the count by mid-November.

The end of the summer, when the hyperphagia food-frenzy hits, is typically the time bears add the most human food to their diets. Even in years when their natural food sources are abundant, they can come looking for high-calorie human food sources.

Johnson spoke of one bear in her study who typically eats in the wild, staying away from human foods. This fall she came down from her home near Missionary Ridge to dine on fruit trees along County Road 250 for more than a week. “She did this one little last free for all,” she said.

The sow has since denned for the season, but her choice is another example of the sophisticated and somewhat unpredictable behavior many bears display. With one more year in the study, Johnson is still crunching the data. But one thing she’s learned is that bears make complex decisions.