The Case for Black Bears

The black bear is the only bruin species left in significant numbers in the continental United States. Hunted heavily in the 1800s and early 1900s, efforts to conserve the species only began in recent decades. As a result of these efforts, today there are more black bears in the U.S. than there were 50 years ago.

Not surprisingly, habitat fragmentation and suburban sprawl pose the greatest threats to long-term conservation of large mammals. As more people move into the West and build in once pristine areas, the chances for conflicts between bears and people increase. Thus, we must protect large, intact corridors of habitat for bears and other large carnivores. Further, people who live or recreate in bear country should learn to avoid or eliminate potential human-bear conflicts.

Compounding the problems of habitat fragmentation and human encroachment, sport hunting could threaten long-term bear conservation in Colorado (see chart). Many bears are killed by hunters in Colorado and the West annually, although states have limited empirical data on bear population sizes for use in setting science-based hunting quotas.

Chart of bear mortalityColorado’s black bear population is one of the state’s most precious resources. Sinapu will continue our efforts to inform the public about safely living and recreating in bear country. Likewise, we will work to watchdog wildlife management and hunting policies related to black bears and their habitat in the region.

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