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Bear sightings are down in Colorado, but they're up in areas affected by drought

Bear sightings are down 28% from the previous two years, but that's only in areas rich in moisture.

COLORADO, USA — Bear activity across Colorado has decreased over the past couple of years, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) recommended vigilance as bears begin emerging from hibernation amid drought conditions.

A CPW report on 2021 bear activity cited a 28% decrease in reported sightings over the previous two years. The decline was prevalent in areas rich in moisture; however, in areas suffering severe drought, there was an increase in bear sightings from previous years.

According to CPW, the 1,834 bear reports filed from the northwest, where much of the region is in severe drought, in 2021 there were 192 more than in 2020, but there were fewer than the 2,146 on record for 2019.

“One of the biggest things that determines what level of bear activity we are going to see as far as human-bear conflicts is whether we get good monsoonal summer moisture,” said Wildlife Manager Adrian Archuleta.

In 2019, CPW launched a tracking system to gather information on bear activity that details trends and sources of conflict. Since its launch, there have been more than 14,000 reported sightings and conflicts with bears.

Black bears are the only species of bear in Colorado. It is estimated that there are between 17,000 and 20,000 bears in the state.

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