I have been concerned by the huge increase in the number of human/bear conflicts that are occurring in Colorado. I am not afraid of the bear that runs when he sees you. I am afraid of a bear that has no fear or respect for humans, that comes into a yard and destroys the family garden and fruit trees, or that comes onto a family’s porch or breaks into a family’s house. This is the bear that is going to hurt someone.
Last fall, a little boy was killed in Utah by a bear that had been harassing campers for an extended time. The family of the little boy is suing Utah Department of Wildlife for not warning them about and protecting them from this bear.
Last summer, there was the questionable death of a homeless man involving a bear in Durango. About two years ago a woman was eaten by bear that she had been feeding in Ouray. Not a good idea to feed bear. The fact remains that these bear are not afraid of humans, and the day is coming when there will be another tragedy in Colorado.
The bear population has exploded in Colorado.?In addition to a food source in municipalities, bear are being crowded out of the wild by other bear. Until recently there has been no way of verifying the bear population. Black bear are nocturnal; they are seldom seen in the wild in the daylight. Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) has developed a scientific method for estimating bear numbers. They string a wire, something like a barbed wire, across a certain path where bear might travel. The wire collects hair samples from each bear that goes under it. CDOW can then analyze DNA to determine the individual identity of each bear in that specific area. From this data, CDOW can statistically determine the number of bear. Preliminary results show that there may be four times more bear now as there were in 1992.
Many people believe that the black bear eats only berries and grubs, but the truth is that the bear is an omnivore, much like humans. They will eat a variety of foods, but they are especially fond of meat as is evidenced by their long canine teeth.
Colorado Mule Deer Association and other sportsmen’s organizations have huge concerns about the burgeoning population of black bear in Colorado. They have evidence that bear are eating a large number of deer fawns and elk calves, a factor in the reduced numbers of these species. There is also fear that black bear are having a negative affect on other wildlife numbers.
In 1992, 19 years ago, the people of the State of Colorado passed a statutory initiative which put in law the rules for black bear hunting. It is time to make some minor changes to this law to allow CDOW to manage black bear.