Unsecured trash likely played a part in Aspen bear attack

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An overflowing Dumpster is seen at the site of a bear attack. (Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

ASPEN, Colo. -– Unsecured trash containers were likely a factor in a bear attack that injured an off-duty Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy in downtown Aspen on Sunday morning, the Aspen Police Department reported.

Deputy Erin Smiddy was walking down an alley in the area of Galena and Mill Streets about 2 a.m. when a black bear swiped at her with its claws, APD said. Smiddy, who was not on duty at the time, was able to kick the bear until it left her alone, police said.

Smiddy was treated at an area hospital for wounds to the leg and abdomen and released later Sunday.

Witnesses had earlier spotted the bear poking around a trash container in the same area where the attack happened. A police officer scared the bear away using lights and sirens, but lost sight of the animal.

While bear attacks are rare, they can happen when bears are attracted to urban areas by unsecured trash, said Mike Porras of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Aspen has a city ordinance that requires trash to be locked up, and the restaurant the bear was investigating has apparently been issued a citation.

Bears are generally given several chances to stay out of urban areas, but this bear will likely be euthanized since it attacked a human, officials said.