Innovation is key

Thinking outside the box is key to protecting black bears.
With an ever expanding human footprint, bears are facing interactions with humans more than ever before.  With this changing landscape, we need to respond with new ways of protecting bears.  Solutions that work in one city may also work in another, thus the importance of sharing solutions and networking ideas across Colorado. 

Driven by Boulder Bear Coalition’s innovative vision, several creative and effective methods that have been implemented in Boulder Colorado: 

  1. Bear Ordinance Zone

    Problem: Trash is the #1 reason bears come into town., with the majority of bear-trash issues occurring along the foothills of Boulder.

    Solution: In March 2014 the city of Boulder implemented a new Bear Protection Ordinance where all residential and commercial properties  in the Bear Protection Ordinance Zone are required to use bear resistant containers for trash and compost.

    Case Study: Over a several year period, Boulder Bear Coalition photo documented thousands of trash cans strewn by bears throughout Boulder. Bringing this to the attention of City Council, including a clear solution (identifying problem areas, meeting with local trash companies, holding community meetings, educating city about bear resistant carts, etc.) resulted in a unanimous decision to require the use of bear resistance trash carts across a large part of Boulder. 

  2. Enforcing the Bear Protection Ordinance: Using the Inquire App

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    A law is only as effective as the enforcement of the law.

    Solution: Using the city’s Inquire App is an easy and convenient way for every member of the community to report trash violations (broken can, overfilled can, non latched bear resistant cart etc). 

    Case Study: Boulder Bear Coalition volunteers have submitted thousands of trash reports using Inquire. With the ability to track each submission, BBC has directly supported Code Enforcement in tracking problem areas and reducing repeat offenders. This visibility has also provided valuable feedback to local trash companies on the durability of retrofitted bear resistant trash carts. 

  3. Native Buffer Zone
    Problem: Bears come into town because they are hungry. If there is food in their natural environment, they do not need to come into town. 

    Plant natural food source in bears natural habitat. This benefits bears, other wildlife as well as  keeping the ecosystem healthy. 

    Case Study: Boulder Bear Coalition partnered with the City of Boulder Open Space to plant and water hundreds of native food for bears and other wildlife in their natural environment. 

  4.  Community Fruit Rescue

    Problem: Bears come to town because they are hungry and they love fruit. Unharvested fruit tree create a dangerous attraction for bears. 

    Solution: Organized neighborhood harvests, where trees bearing large amounts of fruit are harvested by volunteers in the course of a fun event, providing fruit to tree owners, participants and to food banks, shelters, and soup kitchens. Case Study: Founded by Boulder Bear Coalition, Falling Fruit, Boulder Food Rescue 350 Boulder, 
    Community Fruit Rescue is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to harvesting and distributing the surplus urban fruit growing throughout Boulder, Colorado. Boulder Bear Coalition has a representative on its board who helps coordinate harvests and coordinates transfer of a portion of the fruit to the bears at The Wild Animal Sanctuary.


  5. Quarterly Meetings with Stakeholders

Problem: There is often a conflict between community members who want to protect bears and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) managers who relocate and euthanize bears. In addition, city officials often lack understanding of the extent of the problem and the availability of solutions. Thus a blame and victim mentality arises, in which the community keeps bear sightings from officials for fear of a bear being killed. Unfortunately this increases the chance of a bear becoming habituated to town and becoming a “nuisance bear”. 

Solution: Taking an empowered position, in which the community creates an organized voice for the bears. Working with local officials and CPW, establishing common goals, creating understanding on how bears are managed and how the city and community can work together to prevent a crisis where a CPW officer has to handle a bear in town. With a focus on bear protection, a community voice is invaluable in the discussion of bear management. Without regular community input, this further divides the community and those in charge of handling bears. 

Case Study: Boulder Bear Coalition meets quarterly with representatives from Code Enforcement, City Planning Department (Urban Wildlife Coordinator), Animal Control (Boulder Animal Protection) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. With the goal of keeping bears out of town, discussions center around how each group is contributing to this goal and brainstorming new ways to keep bears out of town.