Why do wildlife officers euthanize bears after they attack?

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Three bears were euthanized by Colorado wildlife officials following a deadly attack near Durango on Friday.

Many have reached out to FOX31 and Channel 2 asking, “Why did the bears have to be killed?”

The short answer? Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it is done to protect Coloradans and those visiting our state.

“Whenever an animal is euthanized, we receive many questions about why that action was necessary,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. “Our responsibilities to the natural resources of the state are many, but we have no more important duty than to manage these resources in a manner that keeps Coloradans and our visitors safe. Euthanizing wildlife is never an action our officers take lightly, but we have an obligation to prevent additional avoidable harm.”

Cory Chick, CPW Southwest Region manager said it was very likely the bears would attack humans again.

“Once a bear injures or consumes humans, we will not risk the chance that this could happen to someone else,” Chick said. “We humanely euthanize that bear because of the severity of the incident. 

“Bears will return to a food source over and over. A bear that loses its fear of humans is a dangerous animal. And this sow was teaching its yearlings that humans were a source of food, not something to fear and avoid.” 

In 2020, a bear was euthanized after attacking a man in Aspen at his home.

Another bear was euthanized in 2020 after it entered a Colorado Springs home while a resident was still inside.

“It’s always a hard day when we have to euthanize a bear,” said District Wildlife Manager Cassidy English. “Our mission is to protect wildlife. When bears become habituated to people, they can become a threat to public safety. This is why it is so important that our community works together to keep wildlife wild.”

In 2019,  CPW said 92 bears were euthanized, or 1.7 percent of the year’s reported bear conflicts.

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