Bears bulking up for hibernation poses possible problems for Boulder Campus

Last Thursday, a male bear was spotted on the CU Campus near Varsity Lake. Colorado Parks and Wildlife did not have to tranquilize the bear, therefore it was not tagged or relocated.

The sighting sparked some concern for local groups like the Boulder Bear Coalition, who strive to reduce circumstances that attract bears. Brenda Lee, founder of the Boulder Bear Coalition investigated the area to determine what caused the bear to come so close to campus.

“I actually saw the bear and I definitely had some concerns about how he got on campus,” Lee said. “They said he had come up from the creek area, and I followed the path from where he came from. There are some fruit trees down there, and if he had hunkered down there, he wouldn’t have much incentive to leave.”

The City of Boulder adopted an ordinance in 2014 requiring all trash and compost to be secured in order to minimize frequent visits from bears in search of food. Fruit trees remain a problem, especially since bears often return to an area where they find food.

“Years ago, a bear was relocated to the Wyoming border under anesthesia, and came back to the very spot in Boulder, weeks later, where he had been originally tagged,” Lee said. “If a bear feels as though they have claimed the spot as territory, it is likely that they will come back.”

CPW continues to encourage communities to always utilize the mandatory trash security precautions and make sure fruit is harvested from fruit trees properly. University Hill has been a problem in the past due to large amounts of unsecured trash from college students. Recently, officers have been enforcing this ordinance by giving out tickets for unsecured trash instead of just warnings.

“No law is effective unless you have good enforcements,” Lee said. She is hoping that the Hill will continue to improve with proper implementation of the ordinance.

Contact CU Independent News Feature Editor Charlotte Bowditch at

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