Colorado’s bears are growing more brazen, experts say. Here’s what you need to know.

No need to panic, just learn to be bear aware

Conrad Swanson
The Denver Post
A black bear hangs in a tree looking down on crowds along French Street Monday, Aug. 6, 2018 in Breckenridge.
Hugh Carey/Summit Daily Archive

DENVER — Colorado’s bears seem to be out earlier in parts of the state and a bit bolder in others, wandering trails, city streets and even into homes or restaurants in search of easy food, experts say.

The reasons why vary from region to region. To the southwest, their natural food this time of year — nuts and berries — appear to be in short supply, so they’re on the lookout for quick meals, according to Bryan Peterson, executive director of Bear Smart Durango.

Or to the north, around Steamboat Springs, the bears seem to have lost their natural fear of humans, so they feel empowered to break into homes, garages and even restaurant patios more often than normal, Christy Bubenheim, of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said.

Perhaps there are just more people around, hiking, camping and leaving food around, which attracts bears, Michelle Witte, nature education director of Nederland’s Wild Bear Nature Center, said.

Whatever the reason, Coloradans should be aware of the animals with whom they share the state and take precautions to keep themselves and the bears safe, the experts agree. Because while bears have attacked — and even killed — people in Colorado before, the vast majority of human-bear encounters actually end poorly for the bears.


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