Black bears hibernate for up to seven months in the winter. But recently, Colorado residents have noticed more bears out and about when they should be asleep.

For six years, biologist Heather Johnson tracked black bears in Colorado with GPS collars. She noted the amount of time each bear spent hibernating, along with the winter temperatures. In years with warmer winters, the bears hibernated for less time.

Less hibernation means more hungry bears spending more time searching for food, says Johnson. The animals are more likely to wander near people’s homes looking for meals.
That’s dangerous for both people and bears.

To help keep the bears away, Johnson suggests residents lock up their trash and other food. “We want bears to be wild bears,” she says.