Federal wildlife officials met Monday to discuss the grizzly bear and whether to reintroduce it to the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.
The last known grizzly in Colorado died in 1979 after attacking an archery outfitter hunting for elk east of Pagosa Springs. But in recent years there have been a half-dozen possible grizzly sightings or reports of possible grizzly tracks in the Wolf Creek Pass area of southwestern Colorado.The meeting of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee brought together members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the national Forest Service, National Park Service and game managers from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
Chris Servheen, recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Missoula, Mont., said there are believed to be fewer than 1,000 grizzlies in the continental United States. Most are in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington.
The Fish and Wildlife Service last month placed the San Juans on a list of possible sites at which to reintroduce the grizzly.
Being listed as a possible recovery site means the San Juans would be evaluated for possible reintroduction of grizzlies when funds became available. Officials said such an evaluation would take three to five years and would cost about $500,000.
Servheen said if the San Juans were judged suitable for reintroduction of the bears, 70 to 90 grizzlies would be reintroduced to ensure a self-sustaining population.