As the leaves begin to change and the temperature starts to drop, bears go on the hunt for tasty snacks to prepare to hibernate in the coming months.
This need to pack on pounds, known as hyperphagia, will often drive bears to people’s cars and homes as they search for food, so the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department is recommending bear-proofing your home just to be safe.
"It only takes one person to disregard common-sense precautions for a bear to get into their trash or their home. That one careless person increases the chances that the bear will move on to a neighbor's home, car or trash can,” Jerrie McKee, a district wildlife manager with CPW, said in statement. “We want everyone to understand why it's so important to take the steps to keep your property, your neighborhood, and ultimately our bear population safer."
During this pre-hibernation phase, bears will consume up to 20,000 calories a day and can often spend 20 hours seeking out that food. They’ll also skew from their usual diet, favoring higher fat and higher carbohydrate items this time of year, according to the Reporter-Herald.
“It's important to remember that a bear's drive to consume calories trumps everything, up to and including their natural wariness of humans. So it's important to keep your homes and cars protected, which means closing and locking doors and windows, and keeping garages, open areas like patios, and automobiles clear of attractants,” a CPW spokesperson told Fox News.
“Remember, anything that might smell like food such as hand lotion, lip balms or sunscreen may not seem anything like food to us, but a bear has a keen sense of smell and believes those items taste the way they smell. We ask people to keep their homes, campers and autos safe, because it is one of the best ways to help us keep bears safe."
CPW said that recent wildfires across the state might also make it more likely for the bears to seek food outside their natural habitat, so it’s especially important to take these precautions.
Bears don’t seem to discriminate when it comes to what kind of food they’ll consume. Earlier this month, a young bear cub in Tennessee helped himself to a customer’s pizza on the patio of Howard’s Steakhouse in downtown Gatlinburg.
Last month in Georgia, a woman spotted a bear climbing into her car through an open window and chowing down on her lunch, which consisted of a sandwich, some chips and a cookie.