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CPW has new method to track human and bear interactions

In 2019, Colorado Parks & Wildlife counted 5,300 interactions with bears. A third of them were bears digging through trash.

DENVER — In 2019, people reported interacting with bears more than 5,300 times, according to new data released by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The data marks the first time CPW has used a new system to track the interactions, according to spokesman Jason Clay.

“That number right there is conservative, because in those reports if we had a call that someone said they left their garage open and a bear walked right in and got to their freezer, we didn’t include that,” he said.

One-third of the interactions included bears digging through trash. But other interactions included bears climbing through windows and doors to get into someone’s home or vehicle after smelling food.

WATCH: A montage of bear break-ins

CPW officials say that’s a symptom of easy to access food sources.

“Getting into a garage and getting a bag of birdseed is way more rewarding, I get way more calories and energy from that, then to try to go to this natural berry bush and picking each of those berries off and getting pricked by thorns,” Clay explained.

A total of 303, people reported bears breaking into cars across the state in 2019, according to the data. There were 517 reports of bears breaking into garages and homes.

Those numbers are concerning to wildlife officials, because often when bears break into homes and cars, they’re not afraid to interact with humans.

“These other numbers show the pattern and progression that lead to the unnecessary death of a bear,” Clay said.

In 2019, 92 bears were euthanized, 1.7% of the total interactions. That number is up from 63 in 2018, but far below the 216 bears euthanized in 2017.

Clay said a late freeze in 2017 jeopardized the food supply for bears, leading to many more interactions.

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