A wet winter and spring should help keep bears fed and out of neighborhoods across Southwest Colorado.
“Most of the bears are able to make an honest living,” said Matt Thorpe, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Two years ago, a late frost hurt natural food sources, which resulted in many bears venturing into neighborhoods and urban areas looking for trash and other food sources. A record 60 bears were euthanized that year.
Despite cold weather this spring, plenty of natural food sources, such as chokecherries and service berries, should keep bears well-fed, Thorpe said.
“Things still look really good, with having a banner moisture year,” he said.
But the number of bear sighting reports have gone up during the last 10 days, he said.
In Vallecito, northeast of Durango, wildlife officers have been trying to trap a mother bear and her cub who are responsible for breaking into vehicles and snatching chickens.
In recent days, wildlife officers trapped a nuisance bear near Vallecito, but it wasn’t the mother bear responsible for raiding cars, Thorpe said. The sow and her cub may have moved out of the area, he said.
Thorpe encouraged residents who observe bears looking for food near residences to call CPW right away. Wildlife officers can potentially keep a bear from facing euthanasia if they can intervene early by relocating or tasing the animal, or using other tools, he said.
Facebook posts that have shown bears in neighborhoods are concerning, he said. Tolerating bears that raid trash cans or cars makes those bears more dependent on non-natural food sources, Thorpe said.
“It’s critical that people let us know about some of these bear issues,” he said.