Black Bears

Cordillera is prime habitat for black bears. Property owners should not be surprised to find bears roaming the woods near their homes. Preventing problems with bears is a community effort. 

In 2001, Cordillera adopted a Resolution aimed at preventing human-bear interaction. Thanks to community-wide support, the program has been successful. Cordillera prohibits the feeding of wildlife, both intentionally and unintentionally. Feeding pets and wildlife outdoors is prohibited as is having bird and hummingbird feeders. It is each person's responsibility to take whatever steps necessary to keep all wildlife away from food. 


Colorado is home to only black bears. There have been no grizzly bear sightings in Colorado for decades. Black bears may be observed in a variety of color variations, ranging from black and brown to sometimes cinnamon or even blond. 

Bears typically come out of hibernation at the beginning of May, although warmer temperatures may prompt them to wander about sooner. Bears are omnivore, which means they eat meat, vegetation and garbage. A large percent of a bear's diet is vegetation and bugs. Bears have an incredible sense of smell and can smell food in your home or vehicle.

Black bears are persistent in their pursuit of food, which leads to interactions with people. A bear walking through the woods near your home should not be a concern; however, a bear sniffing around your home, barbecue, hot tub or garage should be discouraged.

Bears will stand up and make a huffing noise, an action people interpret as aggressive behavior, when puzzled. In reality, the bear is trying to get a better look and smell. If you see a bear in the wild, try not to surprise it and do not get between a bear and its cubs.

Bear Resistant Containers

Trash and garbage must be stored in bear-proof containers, with the lids closed and secured. Property owners are encouraged to keep garage doors closed and garbage in closed plastic bags. Garbage at the curb must be inside of bear-resistant or bear-proof containers, with the lids completely closed and secured. 

The CPOA, as part of the community trash program, supplies all property owners with one 90-gallon bear-resistant container. Containers may only be at the street from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. the day of pick-up.

CPOA operates community dumpsters for property owners who have especially smelly trash or who must leave before trash day. Construction sites are required to have bear-proof containers.


A fed bear is a dead bear because bears easily become accustomed to eating human sources of food whether from garbage, bird feeders, barbecue grills or homes. Once a habit is formed it is difficult to break as bears have excellent memories. When bears develop bad habits, the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife becomes involved to relocate or destroy the bear. Bear cubs that learn bad habits from their mothers will be destroyed. Cordillera works hard to prevent the bears from being relocated or being destroyed.

Black bears normally avoid humans, although they are not afraid of people. Bears checking out your home should be promptly and aggressively, yet safely, scared away. Bears that are not accustomed to people are easily scared. Loud noises, such as banging pots, music or air horns, will often scare away a bear. Public Safety uses air horns and rubber buckshot. 

If a bear gets into your house, leave it room to escape. Bears often leave the same way they entered. Make noise to confuse the bear. Finally, report the bear to Public Safety who will contact the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. DPW will attempt to live-trap these bears and relocate them. Relocated bears that return and are a nuisance will be destroyed. 

While bear (pepper) spray can be a good tool to use against bears, it can be equally effective against the person using it due to blow back. Pepper spray is not recommended for indoor use. Aim the pepper spray directly at the bear's face as it is most effective on the nose, lungs and eyes. After using the pepper spray, wash your hands and do not touch your face. Pepper spray cannot be used to coat items, such as a barbecue grill, as a deterrent wildlife. When pepper spray dries, it is pepper and bears enjoy the taste.

  • Garbage can only be at the curb between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Bears tend to feed at dusk and dawn. 
  • Feeding pets outdoors is prohibited. Water bowls are acceptable.
  • Clean barbecue grills after each use by burning off food remnants. If you start to have problems, hang rags soaked in strong smelling detergents or filled with moth balls to discourage wildlife.
  • Keep exterior doors and garage doors closed and locked, especially if you store any type of food (pet food) in the garage. If you store pet food in the garage, consider keeping it in plastic bags.
  • Deadbolt exterior doors, especially if your house has lever-style door handles. Bears are agile and smart. On many occasions, have walked into homes using the lever-style door locks.
  • Keep lower level windows closed, especially while cooking or baking.
  • Contact Vail Honeywagon at 970-476-3511 to arrange for repairs to trash containers.
  • Do not store food or garbage inside of vehicles as bears will force their way into vehicles to get food.

Report problem bears to Public Safety who will use techniques approved by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife to try and scare the bear back into the woods.