Tips to Keep You Safe

What to Do If You Meet a Bear

Bear attacks are rare compared to the number of close encounters. However, if you do meet a bear, here are some suggestions.

  • Stay calm - If you see a bear and it hasn’t seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, talk aloud to let the bear discover your presence. If the bear is near your home call 911 and stay inside your house.
  • Stop - Back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact. Give the bear plenty of room to escape. Bears rarely attack people unless they feel threatened or provoked. Don’t run or make sudden movements. Running is likely to prompt the bear to give chase and you can’t outrun a bear.
  • Speak softly - This may reassure a bear that no harm is meant to it. Try not to show fear. Coming between a female and her cubs can be dangerous. If a cub is nearby, try to move away from it. Be alert-other cubs may be in the area.
  • Fight back - Fight back if a black bear attacks you. Black bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks and even their bare hands.

If you have a bear problem please contact the Telluride Marshal’s Office at (970) 728-3818 during regular business hours or (970)-249-9110 at night and on weekends. If it is an emergency situation please call 9-1-1.

If a bear enters your house when you are present, keep your cool as best you can. Yelling and screaming simply upsets a bear whose mind had previously been focused on finding food. If you can exit your house without crossing the bear’s path, obviously you should do so. Leave as many doors and windows open as possible so that the bruin can leave after finishing his meal. If no door exit is available to you, try to reach a first floor room where you can barricade the door and climb out the window. Otherwise, opt for a second story room with a phone (dial 9-1-1), no food and a door to bar shut. If the bear pays you a night-time visit, turn on as many lights as possible. To keep a bear from entering your house, lock your door at night and close and latch first floor windows, especially those in or near your kitchen or food storage areas.

Dealing With Skunks

The second most bothersome form of wildlife in Telluride is undoubtedly a skunk. They are not dangerous like bears can be, but they can make life miserable. Here are a few suggestions to make your home less attractive to skunks.

  • Do not leave pet food outside. Always feed pets indoors and don’t throw out scraps. Also pick up animal feces in your yard. Feces and the insects that they attract can be attractive to skunks.
  • Remove wood piles or junk piles to prevent a skunk from setting up a home.
  • Pick up trash and make sure that garbage cans have tight fitting lids. Latch your trash can.
  • Cover window wells to prevent curious skunks from falling in and becoming trapped. If you find one in a window well, place a 2x4 board in at a 45-degree angle to allow the skunk to climb out after dark.
  • Prevent access to crawl spaces, under decks, and sheds. Block holes and bury heavy screen 18 inches deep to prevent burrowing.
  • Don’t leave pets outside at night, especially dogs. Skunks are very docile and are easily killed by dogs, which will cause the skunk to spray your pets or your house leaving behind a very unpleasant odor. This is also a good way to expose your pets to rabies. Keep them in.
  • Don’t rely on trapping. All trapped skunks must be destroyed. State Health laws do not permit relocation. Trapping is only a short-term solution. If the environment is right, a new skunk will move in to replace the old one, thus restarting the same old problem.

Prevention is the best policy for skunk control. For more information call the Marshal’s Office at (970) 728-3818.

Preventing Coyote Attacks

Coyotes are rarely a serious problem in Telluride, but they are constantly around the outskirts of town, so a little caution is in order. Never feed coyotes or other wildlife (except birds). Do not leave dog food outside and secure your trash. Keep cats and dogs, especially small dogs, in at night. They can become the prey of coyotes. If a coyote becomes a nuisance or appears to be sick or injured, please call the Marshal’s Office at (970) 728-3818.

Dealing With Birds

During bear season (between April 15 and November 15) bird feeders must be taken down or hung in such a way as to be inaccessible to bears. The ground under bird feeders should be kept clean to prevent problems with bears and skunks.