Bear Smart Durango educational activities

About Us

About Bear Smart Durango

Bear Smart Durango works proactively to prevent human and bear conflict from happening in the first place with the goal of keeping people safe and allowing bears to thrive in their natural environments.

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Durango residents take pride in living alongside bears and few like seeing these remarkable animals harmed simply because people allow them access to human foods such as trash, bird seed and the like. Bear Smart Durango has focused on reducing the amount of human foods left out to be accessed by bears and preventing human-bear conflict.

Humans are a part of human and bear conflict. That should be obvious, but often ignored. Our approach is developing and implementing programs and initiatives to assist people in reducing human and bear conflict with an ultimate goal of making the community safe for both people and bears.


Bear Smart Durango works proactively to prevent human and bear conflict and efforts are focused on educating the public on black bears and respectfully living in bear country, reducing the amount of human foods available to bears, striving to have policies in place that make a meaningful difference and providing resources, tools and practical solutions in preventing and resolving human-bear conflict.

Bear Smart Durango works to prevent human-bear conflict via the following areas of focus and programs:

Our electric fencing incentive program, providing bear-resistant trash cans, scare devices, unwelcome mats and other deterrents as loaners, pumpkin drop offs, bird feeder exchanges, and fruit gleaning by the Good Food Collective are all meant to remove, reduce or secure human food attractants available to bears.

Our educational programs reach a broad audience and include school and outdoor classrooms, summer programs, campgrounds, an educational special events booth, electric fencing and bear spray demos, guided hikes in bear country and a Bear Week.

We've worked to have policies in place meant to reduce human-bear conflict including city and county bear and trash laws, HOA bylaws and no feeding of wildlife laws, and strive for them being enforced at a level to be meaningful and make a difference.

The collaborative stakeholder LPC Bear Working Group meets quarterly with a goal of reducing human-bear conflict in La Plata County. We installed an electric fence around the four-acre Table to Farm Compost facility in 2023 making it the first bear-proof compost facility in Colorado.


The mission of Bear Smart Durango is to foster a better understanding and appreciation of black bears, preserve the well-being of bears by reducing human foods that attract and create "problem" bears in the first place, and reduce human-bear conflict in the greater Durango community.


The Team:
To contact the Bear Smart Durango team, please email us.


Bryan Peterson
Bryan Peterson became involved in human and wildlife issues in 2000 while serving on a wildlife advisory board for La Plata County. He was honored in being selected "Animal Advocate of the Year" by the La Plata County Humane Society in 2019. He has attended regional and international bear conferences in the U.S. and Canada and has twice assisted the National Park Service on grizzly and black bear work in NW Alaska.


Courtney DeLucia
Courtney DeLucia began as an intern and serves as programs assistant. She assists and advises on attractant removal programs, educational efforts, and social media and program development.

Organizational development assistants include Tiffany Brodersen with Region 9 Economic Development District of SW CO, Sandhya Atkinson with Sagebrush, LTD and the Community Foundation Serving SW Colorado.

Steering Committee:
Kim Piper Bartasavich
Brandi Blaisdell
Matt Barnes
Sarah Greenberg
Jill Southworth
Anne-Marie Ferretti Mee
Jazz Morgan
Michelle Furi

There are countless incredibly smart and creative people in the bear community that Bear Smart Durango would not be able to function without. Below is a list of some of the many advisors that Bear Smart Durango relies on for bear behavior and human-bear conflict issues:

• Kim Titchener, Bear Safety & More, Inc.
• John Hechtel, Trustee, Vital Ground Foundation
• Kim Johnston, People & Carnivores
• Diana Doan-Crider, IBA Bear Specialist Group Member
• Daryl Ratajzak, Wildlife for You
• Stewart Breck, USDA-National Wildlife Research Center

• Heather Reich, Bear-ier Solutions
• Tina White, Town of Snowmass Village Animal Services
• Val Matheson, City of Boulder
• Gillian Sanders, Grizzly Bear Solutions
• Tim Manley, Retired, Grizzly Bear Specialist, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

• Russ Talmo, Defenders of Wildlife, Electric Fencing Technician
• Erin Edge, Director, Defenders of Wildlife - Rocky Mountain Region
• Patti Sowka, Director, Living with Wildlife Foundation
• Kim Annis, Wildlife biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Initial Bear and Trash Roundtable Meetings take place

Bear Smart Durango formed

La Plata County Wildlife Ordinance adopted
City of Durango Refuse Enforcement Officer pilot program
City of Durango makes residential bear-resistant trash containers available
Apple Days Festival debuts

City of Durango Wildlife Ordinance adopted

CPW Durango Bear Study begins
Local Bear Working Group formed

Fruit Gleaning Program at debuts

Bear Smart Durango begins loaning out bear-resistant containers, deterrents and assists with electric fencing
First Pumpkin Drop Off in Durango

CPW Durango Bear Study concludes

City of Durango removes warnings for bear in trash violations

The Good Food Collective formed

All residential trash containers in Bayfield are bear-resistant
All waste haulers now offer fully automated IGBC-certified cans

Local retailer note increase in bear spray sales
$206,000 in CPW funding brought to community to reduce conflict

$90,000 in CPW funding brought to community to reduce conflict
LPC Bear Hotline at 970-247-BEAR debuts
LPC Bear Resource Officer position begins
First food storage lockers acquired for area USFS campgrounds