The Andean or spectacled bear is the only bear found in South America. It inhabits Andean forests and sub-Andean from Venezuela to Bolivia and Colombia occurs in the three Andean mountain ranges. This species requires large extension of habitat to meet their needs; therefore, its conservation implies the conservation of many other species. Additionally, the Andean bear is an important cultural element of various indigenous groups.
Habitat loss and its concomitant fragmentation is undoubtedly the main threat to this species. Additionally, the advance of the productive frontier into areas occupied by bears increase conflicts between this species and humans (due to attacks over livestock or crops such as corn), which makes of the hunt by conflict another major threat. Also, the lack of information on population status of the Andean bear and its habitat becomes a threat as it limits the generation of conservation and management alternatives.
WCS works with government organizations and universities in the generation of knowledge about the Andean bear populations status, their ecology and habitat in order to develop tools to assess and reduce the threats. Recently, in conjunction with the Parks Unit (UAESPNN), WCS supported the design of the National Monitoring Program for the Andean Bear in National Parks of Colombia, aimed at assessing the population status of the bear and the effectiveness of conservation actions. Currently, we are working on the National Assessment of Bear-Humans Conflicts with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and local NGOs and continue the capacity building among staff of the Parks Unit.