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CPW to award $1M in grants to projects focused on reducing human-bear conflicts around Colorado

bear and trash cans
Posted at 4:37 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 18:37:33-05

DENVER — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is offering up to $1 million in grants to local groups who want to create ways to reduce human-bear conflicts.

Local governments, NGOs, HOAs, open space departments, community groups, businesses, tribes, universities and individuals are all eligible to apply for the grants, which will range from $50,000 to $500,000 each.

The projects must be designed to prevent conflicts with bears over a realistic timeline, CPW said. The projects must also have local support and either expand on current efforts or develop new approaches.

Kristin Cannon, deputy regional manager for CPW’s Northeast Region, is helping to lead the effort.

“This is a unique funding opportunity we are providing to help communities reduce human-bear conflicts," she said. “High-priority projects will model solutions to conflict, be innovative, are replicable by other communities, involve multiple partners and fill a need in an area with high conflict.”

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The main concern with these interactions is that bears may become comfortable around humans, which can lead to property damage, increased strain on wildlife officers, physical injury to people, and euthanasia of the animal. However, CPW wanted to stress that a conflict with a bear doesn't always lead to euthanization — according to its data, of the 14,013 reports regarding bears in the past three years, just 2.3% led to it being put down.

Nearly a third of those 14,000 reports involved a bear attracted to a trash can or dumpster. CPW said it hopes grant applicants will look to address that specific issue, as bears seeking trash is the leading cause of conflicts. Other problems include birdfeeders, livestock, and open garages.

Map of bear activity in Colorado in 2021
Map of bear activity in Colorado in 2021

CPW said innovative solutions from this grant process will be replicated in other parts of the state.

When evaluating the applicants, CPW said it will take the following aspects into consideration:

  • Addresses a recognized human-bear conflict situation
  • Likelihood of reduced human-bear conflict as a result of the proposed project
  • Applicant’s track record of working in the community and/or on bear conflict
  • The proposal fills a local/regional need
  • Ability to complete the planned project
  • Geographic distribution of funding
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Support of local government and local CPW staff

Funding for these grants comes from House Bill 21-1326, which passed the General Assembly and was signed by Gov. Jared Polis in 2021.

Colorado is home to between 17,000 and 20,000 black bears — a population that is steadily growing. They are typically wary of people and will run away or climb a tree if they believe they are in danger, CPW said. Their natural diet consists of grasses, berries, fruits, nuts, plants and scavenged carcasses. Bears remember where they find food and can often return to those locations.

Want to apply? CPW will hold a virtual meeting on March 24 from 6-8 p.m. to share more details. You can register for the Zoom here. To apply, download an application here. They are due at 5 p.m. on May 6. Grantees will be announced no later than June 30. Click here for more details.

Anybody with questions can contact Cannon by email at kristin.cannon@state.co.us, or by phone at 303-291-7313.