Are There Bears In Colorado? Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Are There Bears In Colorado?
Are There Bears In Colorado? Everything You Need to Know

Colorado, one of the states in the western part of the United States, consists of a healthy black bear population. 

Black bear (Ursus americanus) is a species and not a color. As there are few black bears with brown, honey-colored, or blond fur, people confuse them with Grizzly bears. 

Unlike Grizzly bears, the black bear does not have a shoulder hump with the highest point being in the middle of its back.

There are around 8,000 to 12,000 black bears in the state of Colorado with about 75% of the black bears being brown in color. 

Below I’ve explained all the details you need to know about Bears in Colorado.

Are There Bears in Colorado?

Colorado inhabits a healthy number of Black bears. These bears are found in western and central regions of the state including lower to mid trails of the Rocky Mountains where abundant food is available. 

The Black bears in Colorado have short tails and claws, small ears, and eyes smaller than other bears. These bears are reclusive and seldom attack other bears or humans.

Though we imagine bears to be exceptionally large, black bears are small compared to other species of bears. An adult weighs an average of 275 pounds and a female weighs an average of 175 pounds with a mortality of 20 yrs. in the wild.

What Kind of Bears Live in Colorado?

Are There Bears In Colorado?
Are There Bears In Colorado? Everything You Need to Know

Currently, Colorado inhabits Black bears alone and not a single Grizzly bear has been sighted for several decades. However, in the past Grizzlies and Black bears occupied Colorado. 

Also Check Our Guide On Bears In US

Are There Grizzly Bears in Colorado?

Grizzly bears have been considered locally extinct in Colorado since 1951. However, the last Grizzly bear in Colorado was spotted in 1979 when Ed Wiseman, a hunting guide encountered a Grizzly bear near Navajo River headwaters. 

Wiseman was mauled and attacked by the bear. And while he was down, Wiseman used a hand arrow to fatally injure the bear. The bear died and Wiseman was rescued the next day. Wiseman spent about a month recovering from his injuries. 

As Grizzlies were protected by law, there was an investigation against Wiseman for killing the bear. However, the investigation concluded that Wiseman had killed it as an act of self-defense. The case was dropped after a polygraph test was taken by Wiseman in April 1980.

What Is the Largest Bear Killed in Colorado?

Depending on the food intake and gender of the black bears, they may weigh anywhere between 125 to 275 pounds except in late fall when they weigh 100 pounds more. This is because the bears consume about 20,000 calories per day in fall to survive the leaner winter.

Though the date is unknown, the largest bears ever caught on record were two black bears with identical skull measurements of 22 9/16 inches. And second to that was a massive black bear shot on November 20, 2010. This bear weighed 703 pounds with a skull measurement of 22 5/8 inches.

Most recently, on October 13, 2022, a huge black bear was successfully caught underneath a Durango resident’s home. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers instead of killing the bear, tranquilized it for capture and relocation.

What Part of Colorado Has Most Bears?

Black bears consume plant-based food which occupies about 80% of their plate with the rest 20% consisting of insects and meat. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that these bears prefer to live in forests with abundant availability of fruits, leaves, veggies, and other plant-based foods. 

In Colorado, Black bears are found in the western and central regions including the lower and mid-latitudes of the Rocky Mountains. They have a range of 32 to 320 km and are active during summer and fall (mid-March to early November) after which they recuperate in dens during winter.

Are Bear Attacks Common in Colorado?

Black bears rarely chase/attack humans especially for food as most of their diet consists of plant-based food. Hence, an encounter with a bear can rarely result in an attack. 

However, bears are very protective of food and may attack people if they find any food source near them. There have also been cases where these bears have attacked pets and small children as they are smaller in size.

Therefore, it is important for people to be prepared to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. As bears are active during the night and early morning, avoid hiking during these hours. Other precautions are to leave the pet at home, talk/keep making noise while hiking and keep children closer.

How Common Are Bears in Denver?

A number of Black bears are sighted in Denver during late fall as the bears are preparing for winter. This is because the bears need to intake about 20,000 calories per day to survive the upcoming lean winter.

Are Colorado Black Bears Aggressive?

When a bear encounters a person, it rarely attacks. However, exceptions are there. A black bear’s aggressiveness is most likely when a female bear is protecting its cub and human approaches them. The bear may perceive the human to be a threat and therefore attack. 

Another case may be when a human is present near a food source. Bear will perceive the human to be a competition and attack the human to secure the food.

These situations can be avoided by simple steps like avoiding traveling at dawn and early morning and securing food sources with lid containers.

Can You Shoot a Bear in Colorado?

It is illegal to shoot a bear in Colorado unless the person has a valid license or is acting in self-defense.


And that was everything you need to know about the bears in Colorado. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Thank You For Reading!

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