Colorado wildlife officers investigate report of grizzly |

Colorado wildlife officers investigate report of grizzly

DENVER (AP) – State wildlife officers are checking into the reported sighting of a grizzly bear – a creature considered long gone from Colorado.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officers have searched the site where two hunters reported seeing a grizzly bear and two cubs Sept. 20. The hunters said they saw the bears in the San Isabel National Forest near Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen.

Wildlife officers took a photographer with them on a flight over the area in central Colorado Thursday to look for any signs of the bears, including tracks in the snow, DOW spokesman Tyler Baskfield said.

Colorado has many black bears, but a grizzly hasn’t been seen in the state since 1979 when an outfitter was attacked by a female grizzly in the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. The outfitter survived but the bear was killed.

Before that, the last grizzly seen in the state was trapped in 1952 in the San Juan Mountains.

There have been periodic reports of sightings and speculation that a small population of grizzlies could have survived undetected in the wilds of southwest Colorado. No evidence has been found.

Grizzlies, which are larger than the more common black bear, are found in pockets of the Northern Rockies, principally in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grizzly as a threatened species in the lower 48 states in 1975.

Baskfield said the majority of black bears in Colorado are light in color, making it easier for people without much experience to confuse them with grizzlies.

“In this particular case, the two reporting parties had a good background with black bears and grizzly bears,” Baskfield said.

Grizzlies have dish-shaped faces and a shoulder hump. Black bears have elongated snouts and no hump.

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