Have you sent in your bear survey?

Low response prompts partial redo

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hoping for a more bullish response to a bear survey sent in January to 5,800 residents in Durango and nearby unincorporated areas.

Only 1,400 households, a scant 24 percent, have returned the survey, agency spokesman Joe Lewandowski said Thursday.

“We’d like to have at least a 50 percent return,” Lewandowski said. “If you’ve responded in the last few days, you can ignore the new mailing.”

The objective is to learn how to manage bears and the opinion of residents toward them.

The second survey was mailed to only addresses that hadn’t answered, he said.

Stacy Lischka, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife social science researcher, said in a statement that more than a 50 percent response is needed to get an accurate picture of how the community feels about ursines.

“We’re shooting for at least 50 percent of Durango residents,” Lischka said. “That will help us determine future management plans.”

Even people who haven’t seen a bear contribute to the survey by answering, she said.

The survey is part of a five-year study to find ways to reduce bear-human encounters in urban areas.

Researchers launched the study last summer when they trapped and placed GPS collars on 26 female bears and ear-tagged more than 40 others.

The movement of the sows and their offspring will be tracked. Plans call for placing collars on more bears this summer.

The goal is to trap and place collars on 50 sows over five years.

Durango was chosen because it’s an urban area adjacent to prime bear habitat. As a result of the proximity, when bears feed ravenously in the fall to put on fat for hibernation, they raid garbage cans in residential areas.

The survey takes 15 to 20 minutes to answer. The envelope includes return postage. Lischka would like whoever is living at a residence to complete the survey.

Lischka is available at (303) 291-7279 to answer questions.

daler@durangoherald.com

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