As Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen has reported for All Things Considered, encounters between humans and bears are up sharply across the western U.S. The bears are having to cover more territory because of droughts that have dried up some of their natural foods, including berries.
Today, ABC News adds that "across the West, communities are in the midst of a black bear epidemic this summer as the hungry critters venture into backyards and neighborhoods in a search for food."
And now, with cooler weather coming, bears are starting to "bulk up for winter hibernation," ABC adds. "In other words, the problem is about to get worse."
Aspen, Colo., already logged a record "292 bear calls in August, a whopping 668 percent increase compared with the 38 bear calls logged in the same month last year," the Aspen Times reports.
In Vail, Colo., last week, the local Daily posted photos of a "ninja bear" that evaded capture.
Yes, we do seem to have a thing for stories about bears, real and toy: