LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - Bears have been spotted in Big Thompson Canyon rummaging through homes damaged in September's floods.
Usually a bear sighting is a sought-after photo opportunity, but wildlife officials say solitary bears searching abandoned cabins for food are a safety issue.
"We have had some cabins that have been left, or should probably be dismantled at some point," said Jennifer Churchill with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Owners need to lock up and they need to make sure there's no smells or easy food to get to."
Experts say hungry bears have to ingest 20,000 calories per day before winter and that nine times out of 10, relocation of nuisance bears doesn't work.
"Unfortunately those bears really are not going to last very long. When they get to so habituated we do have to remove them," said Churchill.
The stark reality is that a human fed bear is a dead bear.
There are now about 13,000 to 15,000 bears in Colorado, but wildlife officials say they have to euthanize about 100 of them every year.
"We have a natural resource here that people come from around the world to see, and we need to value that and honor it," said Churchill.