GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS, Colo. — Living in Southern Colorado has its perks, which is probably why nearly 20,000 black bears call it home. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) says it’s making sure the public is bear aware as the population of bears continues to grow.

To reduce human-bear encounters, several communities are receiving grant funding to keep Coloradans safe and protect Colorado’s iconic wildlife.

Bears may look cute and cuddly, but they can sure cause a scare and even some damage.

“It’s almost like they have a built-in calendar for when we have our trash days,” Todd Dixon, Mayor of Green Mountain Falls explains.

Mayor Dixon of green mountain falls says community members in his neck of the woods see a bear every week.

“We’ve even had bears come to our back door,” Mayor Dixon says.

To reduce human-bear conflicts, 11 Colorado communities are receiving some very much needed state funding.

“Better believe we tried to apply for that grant,” Mayor Dixon says. “We are just tickled pink that we got it and really happy with CPW for making this possible for us.”

The town of Green Mountain Falls is a heavily forested area that many bears and Coloradans call home.

“Not much has changed with the bear’s behavior,” CPW Ranger Joey Livingston explains. “With all the influx of people especially people from other states where they don’t have bears, we have seen an increase in conflict.”

As more people spread out into rural parts of the state, the chances of running face to face with a bear only increase.

“If Green Mountain Falls can do a great job of keeping bears from coming into their areas, the bears are less likely to move down Ute Pass into Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs,” Livingston says.

Green Mountain Falls will receive ten bear-proof trash cans and additional signage to promote bear awareness.

“For everyone, it’s just a matter of trying to do their part,” Mayor Dixon says.

CPW estimates bears can smell up to a mile away. If you have food, trash, or birdseed bears are going to prefer a quick snack over foraging in the forest.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Be Bear Aware