Wildlife officials see increase in ‘bear conflicts’ while attacks statewide are considered rare

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — State wildlife officers shot and killed a bear suspected of attacking a 5-year-old girl in Mesa County on Mother’s Day.

Officers shot the male bear, aged about 2 years, around 9 p.m. Sunday. The girl— who is still recovering— is expected to make a full recovery, according to staff at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), a state agency that manages up to 20,000 bears, says it’s confident the bear that attacked the girl is the bear that was killed. Confirmation could take a week as the state waits on DNA results that could positively link the bear to the girl.

A bear attacking a human is considered rare, according to CPW. But, state wildlife officials say they have recently received more reports of bear sightings and conflict as more people move to Colorado.

Statewide, government records show three people have been killed by bears in Colorado — one in 1971, another in 1993 and most recently in 2006.

“How many bears can we tolerate biologically but also socially, politically and otherwise,” asked JT Romatzke, a regional manager at Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Romatzke says all Coloradans need to be bear aware by adopting smart habits such as keeping tight lids on outdoor trash cans and reporting any perceived dangerous bear activity to wildlife officers. Click here for more tips.

Colorado bear attacks on humans:

  • 2014 — 2 attacks
  • 2015 — 3 attacks
  • 2016 — 0
  • 2017 — 5 attacks
  • 2018 — 1 attack as of May 13, 2018

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