ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4)– The number of bear-human encounters is down significantly this year in part because natural food sources aren’t as hard to find.

“Overall it’s been a great summer. Probably one of the best summers we’ve had since 2002,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Perry Will.

The bear-human interaction in Aspen has severely decreased compared to last year. In 2012 police received 1,040 calls about bears and this year they’ve had a fraction of that.

“We’ve had very few bears, only 23 calls so that can show you how much Mother Nature really impacts the bear activity here in town. They haven’t had a reason to come scour around for food,” said Aspen Police Department spokesman Blair Weyer.

“They’re not seeking human food sources. Bears prefer natural forage,” said Will. “We didn’t have a food failure, we didn’t have a freeze, we had a really good April, May, June was dry, July the monsoons came in and kind of saved us.”

Because of the abundant natural food source across the state, bear-human interactions have plummeted.

Wildlife officers have had to put down 69 bears this year. That’s about half compared to each of the previous two years.

The problem was so bad last year that the Aspen Police Department put out signs asking people to be aware of bears and keep their distance.

“Our idea with these signs was really to alert folks there was a bear in the area so they can keep their distance a bit,” said Weyer. “We haven’t had to deploy them yet to my knowledge.”

With a few more weeks to do before most bears head into hibernation the number of bear-human encounters could increase.

“Of course the bears are in hyperfasia now so they’re trying to take on 20,000 calories a day and when there’s ample food out there like there is right now, not a problem,” said Will.

Even with fewer encounters Parks and Wildlife officers said it’s still essential to be bear aware — keep your trash locked up and don’t feed the bears.


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