Peru is probably home to the largest population of Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus; ); however, no studies have assessed the density and ecology of the species in this region in the past 20 years. Population density estimates are a cornerstone of species conservation because they help guide decision-making and monitoring of species trends. Here, we study Andean bear population density in a small area (i.e., visible area: 352 ha), Copal, in the Amazonas region in Peru between 2015 and 2017. To estimate Andean bear density, we used 3 methods: one based on capture–recapture data of bears, one based on an occupancy model, and one based on the frequency of a uniquely colored bear compared with the frequency of other black Andean bears. Our results estimated Andean bear densities between 8.85 and 17.39 bears/100 km2; we considered our estimate of 10.38 bears/100 km2 from capture–recapture data to be the most reliable. We also recalculated Andean bear density results from Ecuador by , which provided a similar estimate of 11.49 bears/100 km2. Additionally, we report a unique finding of a bear with a golden brown pelage, which we suspect to be the first case in Andean bears. During behavioral observations, Andean bears were predominantly feeding. We suggest that, although Andean bears have large home ranges, a few small areas may be of disproportionate importance to a population. Protecting small areas frequently used by a large number of bears could be an effective mean for Andean bear conservation where large reserves are not a feasible option. We also recognize the need for large-scale studies using a spatial capture–recapture framework, and to associate the results of Andean bear density with resource use in order to successfully protect high-value Andean bear habitat.
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Vol. 2021 • No. 32e12