About 15,000 black bears live in the forests, canyons and mountains of the Upper Rio Grande. Contrary to their name, most are brown, reddish-brown or blonde. Females usually maintain a home range of 5 to 7 square miles while males typically occupy an area of 25 square miles. Those territories can be extended up to 50 square miles if habitat becomes deteriorated or fragmented.
Black bears move across the landscape seasonally in search of food and hibernate from November until early May. About 100 bears are killed from vehicle collisions in Colorado every year. Dozens of others are killed after coming into conflict with humans. The expansion of housing developments in the Upper Rio Grande area means that bears increasingly are becoming dependent on human food from trash cans that have not been properly secured. Protecting healthy habitat in undeveloped areas and reducing attractants in developed areas will help ensure robust black bear populations.