Black Bears

Cordillera is prime bear 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. 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 the bears and other wildlife away from food.

Thanks to community-wide support, the program has been successful.


Colorado is home to only black bears (a species of bear not referencing its color). 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 sense food in your home or vehicle.

Black bears are persistent in their pursuit of food, which leads to their 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.


Black bears normally avoid humans, although they are not afraid of people. 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.

While pepper spray can be a good tool to use against bears, can be equally or more effective against the person using it due to blow back. If you decide to use pepper spray it is not recommended for indoor use. Aim the pepper spray directly at the bear's face as it is most effective on moist areas such as 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.

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

Bears Have People Problems

A fed bear is a dead bear because bears easily become accustomed to eating human sources of food whether it is 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.

Bear Resistant Containers

Trash and garbage must be stored in bear proof containers when not at the street for pickup. A bear proof container is any container that a bear cannot access, typically a solid metal container that would prohibit a bear from accessing the garbage inside. Containers at the street for pick-up must be approved, bear resistant 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. Trash cans not kept in garages or similarly approved structures must be kept in a bear proof container.

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.

Garbage Can Guidelines

  • 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 and 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.