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Bear encounters in Colorado down slightly last year from 2019

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Posted at 1:36 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 15:36:03-05

DENVER — Bear encounters are not so uncommon in Colorado, especially if you venture out into the backcountry or live in a mountain community. But bear reports became slightly less common last year compared to 2019, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) release Wednesday.

In 2020, there were 4,943 reports filed on bear encounters, down slightly from the 5,369 in 2019. And one-third of those encounters last year have been traced back to having trash involved as an attractant, the CPW said.

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Map of bear reports documented in 2020

The wildlife agency said trash is not the only problem leading to human-bear conflicts. Bird feeders, unsecured chicken coops and livestock, among others, were factors in attracting the animals.

CPW says trash and bird feeders are typically a bear’s first association with people, which leads to problem bears that could force wildlife officials to euthanize the animals or relocate them.

CPW euthanized 120 bears in 2020 and relocated 89. The number of bears put down and relocated in the previous five years: 2019: 92 euthanized, 44 relocated; 2018: 63 euthanized, 24 relocated; 2017: 216 euthanized, 109 relocated; 2016: 36 euthanized, 16 relocated; 2015: 65 euthanized, 40 relocated.

Wildlife officials say residents should secure their trash and avoid placing a birdfeeder outside from March until after Thanksgiving.

CPW is hesitant to draw conclusions as to why encounters slightly dipped last year. They maintain the number is still substantial to where they would like to see it.