Sunday, May 11, 2008, 02:44 AM - SafetyThe most important factor to keep in consideration is that bears and other wildlife are as their name implies-wild. While bear sightings are very rare in the mountains in Breckenridge, you should keep in mind that the goal is to coexist with these creatures, so you should do your part to keep these animals wild and safe. Under no circumstances should bears be captured, harassed, or fed. In fact, feeding a bear will likely make them become more aggressive toward the next group of humans it comes across. Before you go out playing in the Breckenridge mountains, take these precautionary tips into consideration:
• Make noise.
Although the mountains boast a calming and relaxing environment, an unassuming bear can feel startled if snuck upon. For maximum safety, make mountain activities a group effort. The more noise you make, the less likely a bear will approach. If a bear hears you, it's unlikely that it's going to come to the noise. It would rather keep to itself and leave you alone. When bears are surprised by mountain visitors sneaking up on them, they are more likely to feel threatened. Talk, sing, or hum as you explore the mountains. Local shops in Breckenridge sell bells that you can tie around your neck, automatically making noise for you as you hike trails.
• Stay calm.
In the rare event that you do come across a bear while hiking, try to keep a cool head. Slowly lay down your pack or anything else you are carrying and back away from the animal. In most cases, the bear will either move along on its own or take interest in your pack. If the bear does approach you, make yourself look big by extending your arms above your head, and make loud noises.
• Clean up.
Bears are hungry creatures and will likely follow the smell of food the longer it lingers. After you've finished cooking, burn all excess grease and food from grills and stoves. Be sure to wipe your table or eating area clean as well. Additionally, try to situate your camping area so that your tent and sleeping bag do not smell of food. Because the clothes that you've cooked in will retain the grill's smell, store those in bear-proof containers as well.
• Store it.
Keep your food and garbage in the trunk of your car or suspended from a tree. Get all food at least ten feet off the ground and four feet from the trunk of the tree to be safe. Remember, vehicles are not bear proof-the trunk is the safest storage place if your car is nearby.
• Get it out.
Don't burn or bury your trash-a bear will just dig it up and create a mess. Pack it in bear-proof containers and pack it out with you. Many camping areas are equipped with bear-proof garbage cans for your use.
Remember, bear encounters in Breckenridge are extremely rare. Bears are solitary creatures that like to stay to themselves. Hikers and campers can continue to coexist with mountain wildlife by remembering these basic tips of hiking and camping in the Colorado high country, so get out and have a good time in Breckenridge.
By: Christine J. Cook
Chris Cook lives part time in Breckenridge, Colorado and loves to share her expertise on the mountains with visitors. If you're planning a trip to the Rocky Mountains, visit this site for your Breckenridge lodging: http://www.summitvacations.net