People may be under the impression that feeding bears is a charitable, humane act, but Colorado wildlife officials have a different take. "It's selfish and unethical," Matt Martinez, an area wildlife manager for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency, said in a release Tuesday, after an elderly Douglas County couple were busted for purposely luring bears with food, per the Denver Post. CPW says the husband and wife, from the Castle Rock area, were cited after the agency received repeated claims over the past year of people feeding the bears, CBS Denver reports. The Post notes that once someone starts feeding bears, more wild animals start to show up, which leads to a bunch of animals all congregated in one area. "This can lead to an increase in human-wildlife conflict," CPW spokesman Jason Clay tells the Post.
That can happen because once bears become comfortable in these human-adjacent locations, they may start to get too assertive, digging through residents' trash cans for a meal, or even trying to break into cars or homes. If a bear is deemed dangerous to humans for such behavior, it gets euthanized. If you desperately crave connection with an animal, Martinez has a suggestion: "Choose a domestic breed that has evolved to live with people." Clay agrees, noting that when people feed wildlife, the consequences can be dire. "Wildlife is always the ultimate loser." Fines for feeding the bears in this area can range from a couple hundred bucks to $2,000, in addition to surcharges, though in this case, the husband was fined just $200 plus surcharges, as was his wife. (Read more bears stories.)