Friday, April 24, 2015

Black Bear Safety Tips

By Alyssa Meier, CSU Wildlife Biology Undergraduate and CNHP Student Intern

Spring is here, and with warming temperatures, black bears are emerging from winter hibernation. Black bears can spend up to twenty hours a day covering numerous miles of ground in searching for food, which can lead to some surprising encounters.
Young black bear snoozing in tree.
Here are some tips on what to do if you see a bear:
  • Stay calm. The bear is probably just as shocked as you are.
  • Stop and back away slowly. Sudden movements are often perceived as aggressive and can cause the bear to act defensively in response.
  • No eye contact. Directly looking at bears is seen as a challenge.
  • Speak quietly. Loud noises are perceived as aggressive.
  • Don’t run. Running triggers an automatic predator response in the bears and they will see you as some pretty slow prey.

Bears are very capable climbers and often seek refuge from threats in trees.
Bears are naturally inquisitive creatures. Some encounters occur because the bear is just curious about what’s going on in the area. The behavior of the bear is indicative of the bear’s intentions.

Here are some common bear behaviors:
  • If a bear is sitting or moving away this is often a neutral behavior. Just go about your business.
  • If a bear is standing motionless or ignoring you, it is indicating that they just want to be left alone. As long as you don’t start toward them, the bear will leave you be.
  • Bears climb trees to show submission or seek safety. Mothers will often send their cubs up trees and sit beneath them when they encounter dangers. You’ve probably passed under a few bears hidden up in trees already. Just keep away from the tree and give the bears space and they’ll leave you alone. 
  • When a bear is spotted popping its jaw or huffing, it is a sign nervousness or apprehension. It’s a warning for you to back away and leave them alone.

Curious bears often stand up in order to get a better look. This act in inherently non aggressive.
For more information on safely encountering bears, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Botany Essentials for the 2015 Field Season

If you are out in the field already, or planning to go soon, make sure you have a copy of A Field Guide to Colorado’s Wetland Plants: Identification, Ecology, and Conservation.

If you are working in wetlands on Colorado's Eastern Slope, you can also order a copy of Common Wetland Plants of Colorado's Eastern Plains: A Field Guide. Check our website in September for the upcoming Wetland Field Guide App!

Jennifer Ackerfield, Collections Manager of the CSU Herbarium, has written a new flora for the state of Colorado. Pre-orders are now accepted at the JBRIT website.
Jennifer Ackerfield's new flora will help amateurs and professional botanists alike key out Colorado plant species like the Rocky Mountain blue columbine (Aquilegia saximontana). 

Friday, April 10, 2015

CNHP Staff Teach CSU Graduate Students Field Biology Skills

This week CNHP staff members, along with CSU professor Tara Teel, spent a day in the field with graduate students from the Conservation Leadership Through Learning Program. The CLTL is an innovative graduate program that teaches students how to confront conservation challenges and sustainability from a variety of perspectives. This year’s student cohorts are wrapping up their second semester at CSU, and will spend the last two semesters of their graduate work in either Belize or Africa.
Conservation Leadership Through Learning graduate students learn how to sample vegetation plots at Coyote Ridge Natural Area, Fort Collins.

Close-up of greater short-horned lizard at Coyote Ridge Natural Area.
CNHP staff members Pam Smith and Susan Panjabi, along with Director Dave Anderson and City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department Botanist, taught CLTL students basic field biology skills at Pine Ridge and Coyote Ridge Natural Areas in Fort Collins. These included how to use a GPS to navigate to points, how to set up and survey different types of transects to study plants and animals. The students will use these field skills to design similar studies in Belize and Africa.
A CLTL graduate student holds a greater short-horned lizard.