Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) in Colombia face serious threats, including hunting, habitat loss, and bear–human interactions. Interactions are increasing, but data about these encounters are not consistently compiled. Likewise, bear management needs have not been evaluated. Solutions to these threats and needs are complex and will depend upon biological as well as cultural and political considerations. The objectives of this paper are to (1) quantify and characterize recent bear–human interactions in Colombia with respect to type and geographic distribution, and (2) identify conservation threats within the context of a general management program for Andean bears in Colombia. The study area is the entire range of the Andes Mountains in Colombia. The study is based on 43 written responses to surveys distributed during the early part of 1997 to local government officials that summarized 257 bear–human interactions at 94 localities (138 observations, 66 attacks or depredation, 34 hunting kills of bears, and 19 live captures or sale of parts). Interactions were reported most frequently in the Eastern Cordillera (108). This was explained by recent increases in the level of human activities in that region. We recommend (1) that the survey be continued to estimate bear–human interaction trends, and (2) that Colombian officials focus their bear conservation and management activities on the Western and Eastern Cordilleras, in areas where human density is lowest and the amount of natural forest is greatest, but where deforestation as a result of human colonization is increasing.
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Vol. 16 • No. 1