Dry conditions increase bear sightings, conflicts throughout Colorado

DENVER -- Dry conditions are keeping wildlife officers busy with an increase in bear activity. In fact, at least six bears have been killed in just over a week in Colorado, and officials say lacking food source in their natural habitat could be the cause.

“What typically happens this time of year is you come into July and August and the weather is drier so it brings bears into residential areas more often than if it were wet and there was good forage in their natural habitat,” said Lauren Truitt, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

CPW has been getting about 10 calls every day for bear activity, and Aspen Police has received more than 30 bear calls just this month.

The bear population in Colorado is thriving. It’s estimated that about 20,000 bears live state-wide, but it’s important for bears to have boundaries.

“We need bears to keep that flight,” Truitt said. “They need a natural healthy fear. It’s part of their survival instincts.”

At least six bears have been killed in the last few weeks in Colorado. A staffer was attacked at a camp in Boulder County. That bear was later found and euthanized by wildlife officers.

In Colorado Springs, a bear spent five hours inside a residence before being euthanized by wildlife officers.

Four bears were recently killed in Durango. A land owner killed two bears after they attacked livestock. Two others were euthanized after close human contact.

Wildlife officials ask residents to be aware. Keep trash locked up, make sure all residue is cleaned off grills, as bears can smell food from five miles away.

“Black bears in particular are naturally very shy creatures,” Truitt said. “They don’t like to be around people. What we find is when they’ve become conditioned, when they have a habitat that has formed that humans provide an easy source as food – that’s when a bear really becomes a problem. When they lose their fear of people.”

If you come in contact with a bear, wildlife officials say be loud. Bang pots and pans, throw rocks, yell – anything to make bears feel unwelcome.