Bear suspected in Aspen-area maulings killed by wildlife officers

By Real Vail
Real AspenAugust 21, 2011
A bear suspected of injuring two campers at separate campsites this past Friday and Saturday morning was successfully tracked and killed at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, with the assistance of a specialist with the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program and employees of the U. S. Forest Service.

Based the location, behavior and description of the black bear given by campers involved in the incidents, wildlife officers are confident that they tracked down the bear responsible for attacking two campers while they slept in their tents at the Maroon Bells-Snowmass wilderness area. The bear bit both victims, causing minor injuries to the leg of one camper at Crater Lake and substantial injuries to the leg of another camper in the nearby Minnehaha Gulch area.

"We were very careful to make sure we got the right bear," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will.

Because the two incidents were in the same area and had similar characteristics, Will believes only one bear was involved in these attacks.

"With the removal of this bear, camping in this area is safer today, but there are other bears out there and people need to take precautions when they camp anywhere in Colorado," cautioned Will. "Bears are intelligent and once they find food at one camp, they'll look for food at other camps. These incidents should serve to remind people how serious irresponsible camping practices can be."

In Saturday morning's incident, the injured camper reported having an empty bag of freeze-dried food inside a backpack in his tent. However, the campers involved in Friday morning's incident indicated that they had followed all recommended food storage practices, but still became a target of the aggressive bear. Wildlife managers suspect that due to poor practices by previous campers in the area, the bear had learned that tents were an easy source of food.

"Overall, camping in Colorado remains safe and fun, and incidents like this remain very rare," Will added. "If you follow a few simple rules, you will likely have an enjoyable camping experience."

The bear will be tested for rabies and necropsied as part of the investigation.

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