It's a common mistake - seeing a black bear in the wilds of Colorado and mistaking it for a grizzly. But since 1979, there has been no evidence of grizzlies in Colorado. Wildlife officials have been all but certain they were gone from the state forever.
But on Sept. 20, two Colorado hunters who have experience with grizzlies and black bears reported watching a female grizzly and two cubs through binoculars and a spotting scope at a distance of about 80 yards for about a minute.
The hunters saw the bears in a clearing in the San Isabel National Forest near Independence Pass, but were unable to find tracks or scat after the bears moved on. Three officers from the Colorado Division of Wildlife searched the area three days later, and found no evidence. The official word: Based on the 1979 event, the DOW cannot discount the possibility of grizzlies existing in Colorado.
On Sept. 23, 1979, an outfitter on an archery elk hunt was attacked by a female grizzly in the San Juan National Forest. He survived, but the grizzly was killed. Prior to that incident, it was commonly believed that grizzlies had been extirpated from Colorado. For more information on grizzly bears, go to http://fwp.mt.gov/bearid/