Bear Interactions 2023

Fewer Colorado Bear Conflicts in 2023 Thanks to Nature’s Bounty

DENVER, COLORADO – In a turn of events that has wildlife enthusiasts and residents breathing a sigh of relief, Colorado experienced a significant decrease in human-bear conflicts in 2023. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the state saw a 21% drop in reports of bear sightings and conflicts, with a total of 3,526 incidents compared to the average in recent years. Experts attribute this decline to a good year for natural food production, which kept bears busy in the wild and away from human properties.

However, despite the positive trend, trash remains the leading cause of bear-human conflicts, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance and education on living harmoniously with these majestic creatures. CPW’s data shows that a staggering 92% of reported property damages by bears were linked to some form of attractant, with over half related to trash, followed by livestock, chickens, beehives, and other human-provided food sources.

CPW’s Proactive Approach

To better manage and understand bear activity, CPW implemented a new bear reporting system in 2019. This initiative has been crucial in tracking and quantifying bear conflicts across Colorado, aiding wildlife managers in making informed decisions and identifying conflict hotspots. 

The program also underscores the importance of community involvement in reporting bear sightings, helping to dispel fears that reporting leads to euthanization. In 2023, only a small fraction (1.8%) of reports resulted in euthanization, with the majority being managed through education and non-lethal measures.

The video below shows a progression of bear reports during the 2023 season.

Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Grants

Acknowledging the critical role local communities play in reducing bear conflicts, CPW has also been proactive in providing financial support through its Human-Bear Conflict Reduction Community Grant Program. Last spring, nearly $1 million was awarded to various projects aimed at innovative conflict mitigation strategies. These grants represent a commitment to collaboration and shared responsibility in creating a safer coexistence with bears.

Living Safely with Bears: Tips and Guidelines

To continue the trend of reduced conflicts and promote a safe environment for both humans and bears, CPW offers several bear-proofing tips:

  • Secure Trash: Keep garbage in bear-resistant containers and only outside on the morning of pickup.
  • Be Smart about Bird Feeders: Avoid using bird feeders during bear-active months (April 15 – Nov 15).
  • Keep Bears Wild: Haze bears that come close to your home to maintain their natural fear of humans.
  • Bear-Proof Your Home: Keep doors and windows locked, and secure food, pet food, and trash.
  • Camping Safely: Store food and coolers in a locked vehicle or bear-proof containers while camping.
  • Protect Livestock and Bees: Use fully enclosed structures and consider electric fencing to deter bears.

As we look forward to coexisting peacefully with our bear neighbors, these steps can significantly reduce the likelihood of conflicts, ensuring that Colorado’s wildlife and human communities thrive side by side.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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