Bear Sightings Down In 2013 Versus 2012

One of the most talked about bear sightings of 2013--a bear caught on surveillance camera helping itself to leftovers. (Credit: Edelweiss German Restaurant)

Despite some pretty high-profile sightings over the summer (bears moonlighting as garbage men at German restaurants anyone?), wildlife officials say statewide bear sightings are actually down this year versus last.

Aspen police say they received 1,040 bear calls last year. This year, the number plummeted to just 23. The Aspen Police Department says bears in the area haven't had a reason to scour for food in town.

As another indicator of fewer bear sightings, wildlife officials say they put down just 69 bears this year, half of last year's total.

Despite the decrease in bear sightings, wildlife officials still urge the public to remain on alert. As we approach the time for hibernation, bears' calorie needs go from about 2,500 per day to more than 20,000 so that they can layer some extra fat to keep themselves warm during the winter. This means bear encounters--particularly for those who enjoy hiking and biking on trails--could still be possible.

The National Park Service says if a bear approaches you, be as big and loud as you can to scare it away.