Colorado wildlife managers and homeowners have killed at least 34 bears so far this summer, reflecting the bears’ growing reliance on human-derived food amid a seasonal shortage of forage in some areas.
This surge in what the managers call “lethal removals” builds on a pattern in Colorado, where people kill more than 1,000 bears a year. Hunters killed 1,051 bears in 2015 and 933 in 2016, Colorado Parks and Wildlife data show. Government wildlife managers and landowners kill additional bears deemed dangerous; last year, 334 bears were killed — 66 by state wildlife officials. At least 77 bears died last year when hit by vehicles.
Nobody is comfortable with what’s happening with bears, the largest surviving carnivores in the West. Some wildlife managers point to recent dry conditions and shortages of natural food that may be driving bears into cities. But there is evidence that some bears facing urbanization of their habitat are growing accustomed to eating human food in trash cans, campsites, cars and homes.