Grizzly bears reportedly spotted near Independence Pass, Colorado ! ?

It has just been reported that 2 hunters who are experienced with the visual differences between black and grizzly bears say have seen three grizzly bears near Independence Pass, Colorado.

Grizzlies are thought to be extinct in Colorado, with the last killed in 1979 (even though it was thought to be extinct in the state then).

There has been speculation about grizzlies in state ever since the appearance of the 1979 grizzly in the south San Juan Mountains. I read Ghost Grizzlies by David Petersen, and hoped. Other books about possible Colorado grizzlies have been published.

Colorado Division of Wildlife News Release.

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As comments and the news have developed, I would hope, but I am pretty skeptical if these were grizzly bears.

Here is the latest, this time the Denver Post. “Officials comb hills for grizzly.

Added Oct. 3. Hibernation will soon end search for possible Colorado grizzlies. Now a dead link.

Comment by Ralph Maughan. Aug. 4, 2014. No further sign of grizzlies was ever found.





  1. dcookie Avatar

    It’s just so unlikely. Despite the marketing…Colorado is a populated state with a huge number of outdoors-oriented people. Folks are hiking and skiing and flying and driving all over Colorado. I wish humans could back off enough for brown bears to thrive in Colorado, but I just can’t believe it after seeing lines of SUVs slinking up and down every pass in the San Juans summer after summer after summer.

  2. Elizabeth Avatar

    I have read both popular books about the “ghost grizzlies”. How great would it be if there really was a population of griz in the southern rockies!!!

  3. gary sanders Avatar
    gary sanders

    I do believe Grizzlys have been seen. I know of atleast two locations to find them. I have been in the hills since I can remember and do hunt avidly. If you find a track, draw a strait line from the little toe to the big toe. If the track pad of their foot goes beyond that line, it is a black bear. If it does not, it’s a grizzly. One bear that I know of is in south park and the other is up on top of pawncha pass. These bears stay in the ruffist county you’ll find and that is were I like to hunt. The state fish and game don’t want to admitt we have these bears but I could prove them wrong. I have hunted bears and know what I am talking about. They aren’t anthing to be afraid of unless you piss them off. The bow hunter signing off.

  4. dcookie Avatar

    gary sanders- Your post kind of implies that hunters do not make an overt effort to report grizzly sightings and/or sign. Reasoning being that if there were more frequent, reliable reports of griz sign/sightings to CDOW, they would have to acknowledge griz presence and move towards endangered species act guidance. Your thoughts?

  5. Jon Avatar

    I’m a avid outdoorsmen from Minnesota that has traveled in every state in the country including on top of Mt Makinly. Wildlife is my passion and so is Colorado. I travel in the back country there 3 weeks/year. I seen a Grizzly bear in SW Colorado with my own eyes and watched it for about a 30 seconds. I saw it going through Owl Creek Pass. Im 100% sure it was a grizzly about 300 lbs. This was in June 2006. Colorado has a small population of grizzlys that I don’t think ever died completly off. The DNR tells you there’s no Grizzlys in my opinion because they don’t want people to know yet untill the population comes back up. Why you may ask. Well I think that the more people that where to know of this Grizzly bear that most everyone fears or wants to kill the the more they would be killed. Humans are what kills or pushes animals out of there range so the less that know the less would be killed. There are grizzlys in Colorado, just not that many.

  6. doug Avatar

    Jon, I agree and think a remnant population exists. ddi you report your sighting to DOW? I think this is essential, if a grizzly is confirmed, they can’t keep burying their heads in the tundra.

  7. chad Avatar

    Yes I think that there are a few grizzlies in Colorado but they don’t hang out in places that people in jeeps can see them. The best place to look would be Weminuche Wilderness and the Lizard Head Wilderness. I also heard stories when I was a kid of a cowboy seeing the DOW unloading three darted grizzly bears from trailers up by Ground Hog lake. Ute Mountain is also rumored to have a few grizzlies on it there are very few people allowed up there because it is on the reservation and there is a good population of elk and deer there. But these could be just stories and they are extinct we should have them though.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan