Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus; bear) is endemic to the tropical Andes Mountains of South America. Previous assessments predict that bear populations will decline by >30% in the next 30 years. The species may face the greatest threats within its historical distribution in Colombia where rapid agricultural expansion into natural habitats is increasing human–bear conflicts. Between April 2017 and March 2018, we studied bear feeding behavior on plantain (Musa sapientum) and banana (M. paradisiaca) crops within the Barbas-Bremen protected area in the central mountain range of Colombia to describe the magnitude of crop damage, economic losses, and spatial distribution of feeding sites where human–bear conflicts would most likely occur. We also identified all affected farmers and used structured interviews to determine their attitudes toward the bears and their conservation. We recorded 237 damaged plants and identified 57 bear feeding area locations on 9 farms. Bear damage consisted of bites to the trunk of each plant and consumption of the centers. The damage polygon covered 198 ha, and it was located in the northwestern portion of the protected area. Although we estimated that the magnitude of crop consumption by bears and social and economic dimensions of damage caused by the species in Colombia. Our research also provides insights on how human–bear conflicts may be mitigated in the study area.