Climate Change, Bears, & People

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
WILDLIFE: Warm weather causing conflicts between bears and people (11/20/2007)

Higher-than-normal temperatures in the Western states are being blamed for increased bear activity and conflicts with people. Wildlife managers say 59 bears in Colorado alone have been put down this year due to a berry-killing drought and a late spring freeze that has forced bears into increased confrontations with humans. The previous record number of nuisance bears killed in Colorado was 55, in 2002.

Other Western states like Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Nevada also have experienced increased conflicts. An 11-year-old boy was killed by a bear at a Utah campground in June.

With temperatures as high as 10 degrees above normal, many bears are trolling cities for food rather than settling into their winter dens. “If we get a good blast of snow here it would put an end to it for this year,” said Tyler Baskfield, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, who added that most bears already have entered hibernation. Wildlife managers in Colorado will meet in January to examine areas where the most confrontations occur and determine whether specific measures need to be taken to reduce conflicts, including an increase of fall hunting licenses for bears.

The Colorado Wildlife Commission will decide what to do in March (Robert Weller,
AP/Anchorage
Daily News, Nov. 19). —
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