A 33-year-old man sustained minor injuries and his car was disabled Thursday night, when it struck a 400-pound bear on U.S. 50, mile marker 115.

The animal ran into the woods, where it died, the Colorado State Patrol said.

Such collisions are not uncommon, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The agency reminds the public that bears are in hyperphagia as they lard up for their long winter’s nap during hibernation. Road crossings could therefore be more frequent this time of year.

According to CPW stats, there have been at least 3,800 bear-incident reports since April 1; most have not involved vehicle collisions, but bears trying to get to food.

The state expects those numbers to rise as bears, which need to consume as many as 20,000 calories a day in preparation for hibernating, are now in a near-constant state of searching out food.

People who see bears in their neighborhoods or near businesses and other inhabited areas should immediately contact CPW, in Montrose at 970-252-6000, or dispatch after hours at 970-249-9110.

Also, take steps to prevent bear encounters in the first place, by properly storing food, cleaning garages and outbuildings, taking in bird feeders, properly securing trash and securing vehicles.

Bears can smell food in cars and will try to enter them; when they succeed, the animals often destroy the vehicle’s interior to get the food — and then in trying to get out again.

To truly discourage bears from “dumpster diving,” use trash receptacles specifically designed as bear-resistant. Modified waste receptacle lids, raccoon-proof lids and self-rigged options just don’t work, CPW said.

Other steps: Close and lock first-floor windows and doors; put grates and bars on windows that have to be left open; lock garage doors and install extra-sturdy doors if there is a freezer, fridge, pet food, birdseed or other things that attract bears in the garage; cut down tree limbs that might provide access to upper-level decks and windows; replace exterior lever-style door handles with good quality, round doorknobs bears can’t push or pull open.

Reduce the chance of attracting bears by not leaving trash out overnight unless it’s in a bear-proof enclosure or container; clean trash cans regularly; don’t leave anything with an odor outside, near open windows or in a vehicle — including scented candles, air fresheners, lip balms and lotions; clean up completely after picnics and clean grills immediately after use; only feed birds when bears are in hibernation (generally mid-November through mid-April); pick fruit from trees before it gets too ripe; do not leave coolers, foods, pots or pans out when camping.

Teach bears to stay wild by scaring them away with loud noises when they stray near homes; use electric fencing and scent deterrents like ammonia. If a bear gets inside the house, open doors and windows so it can get out; do not approach the bear or block escape routes and call CPW or the Colorado State Patrol if it won’t leave. If a bear is an immediate threat to human safety, call 911.

More information can be found at cpw.state.co.us. Search for the Living With Bears page.

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