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Be “Bear Aware” to Keep Animal Conflicts Trending Down

March 29, 2024

Colorado Parks and Wildlife received 3,526 reports of sightings and conflicts with bears in 2023, which is a 21 percent decrease from previous years. That’s largely due to healthy natural forage production last season. It’s still too early to tell how 2024 will shape up. The vast majority of calls involve bears trying to access human food sources, with trash remaining the number one source of conflicts. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Tafoya Barrett & Associates and Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Read the Full Transcript

As bears become more active heading into the summer months, officials want you to do your part to keep interactions with the animal trending in the right direction. You're watching the "Local News Network" brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Dunkin Donuts, I'm Connor Shreve. Calls to wildlife officials indicate that bears are already active. Good natural food supply for bears tends to reduce the number of bear encounters with people.

You know, March is always too early to tell how it's going to be for bear season. You know, locally here in Durango in town, it's been pretty dry, right? We don't have the snow pack we did last year, but the mountains are still around 90% of average snow pack, which is good to see. So we're hoping that, that food mass up in the high country is good.

Last year, human bear interactions were down 21%. Southwest Colorado is usually near the top of the state rankings for bear encounters. And while that's obviously not a good thing, it has led to the area being better than most when it comes to efforts focused on keeping bears and people as protected as possible.

What we've seen is all of the city of Durango has gone to bear proof trash containers, you know, all kind of developed from a research study in the 2000s that's really kind of helped push that, and the city got behind it and put together the funding to get those. And we've really seen a huge decrease in trash related conflicts in the city of Durango. Now, the goal is to expand that beyond just the city limits, right? So more of our HOAs and subdivisions that are just outside the Durango City limits, getting them more bear proof containers, as well as other communities in our county.

About half of all bear reports are linked to an attractant of some kind, livestock, fowl, bird seed, pet food, namely trash. Ultimately, bear safety comes down to us, and one of the major mistakes we make is being scared of or welcoming neighborhood bears.

Always a good reminder to the public, you can haze bears away from your property, you know, yell, scream, bang pots and pan, set off your car alarm. Don't make a bear feel welcome in our neighborhood. And if there is a bear frequently visiting your neighborhood, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife, we'll get an officer out there, we can assess why is that bear coming? What's attracting it there? We remove that, and then hopefully the bear moves along on its own and goes back to the woods, gets those natural food sources that we like them eating.

People are often reluctant to report bear sightings, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife says, reporting early can help save a bear's life.

Our first goal at CPW is never to trap, or relocate, or to have to euthanize a bear. We want to get there early enough to address what the problem is, remove attractants, and let that bear naturally kind of leave that habituated area on its own. We don't want bears, you know, in our homes, our subdivisions.

CPW says it had to kill a bear in less than 2% of its calls last year. The chances of saving a bear increase the faster CPW knows about a sighting. Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommends securing trash, cleaning cans, closing garage doors, and getting rid of bird feeders to keep bears away from your property. A full list of precautions can be found on the CPW website. To learn more about this story, visit Thanks for watching this edition of "The Local News Network," I'm Connor Shreve.


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