Bear bites man in Aspen; third attack this year in area

(Photo: D.J. Hannigan)

ASPEN, Colo. — A bear bit a man in the leg in Aspen Sunday evening, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

About 11:30 p.m. Sunday, CPW and Aspen police officers responded to the 300 block of East Hopkins Avenue. According to CPW, a large black bear had bitten a local restaurant manager’s leg, resulting in four deep puncture wounds.

According to CPW Area Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita, the man was trying to scare the bear out of a dumpster after his employees refused to throw away trash because they were afraid of the bear.

“While the manager stood next to the dumpster, the bear climbed out and bit the man on the leg, then ran off,” CPW said in a press release issued Monday.

Yamashita said by trying to scare the bear out of the dumpster, the man put himself in danger.

“It is likely the bear felt cornered and it reacted aggressively. As we have warned over and over again, this is the exact scenario that can happen when people and bears interact, and why it is so dangerous for bears to be around people,” Yamashita said in the press release.

Yamashita also questioned why the dumpster was open at all, allowing the bear to get inside.

CPW says the man who was bitten described the bear as weighing about 350 to 400 pounds, which is large for a black bear.

Authorities have not yet found the bear.

“It’s unfortunate, but this bear will be put down when we find it,” said Yamashita in the statement. “We’ve told people over and over, this is what typically happens when bears get comfortable around humans. We are going to act to protect people, but if some folks can’t be bothered to protect themselves, we hope they at least act to protect bears.”

The bear attack is the third in the Aspen area this year.

In May, a bear bit a woman on the Hunter Creek Trail. It was later found and killed by wildlife officers.

On July 27, a bear swiped at a man at the Aspen Meadows Resort. The man had a scratched arm and torn clothing.

“Several witnesses reported that the bear had previously approached several people, exhibiting no fear. CPW officers are still looking for that bear,” CPW said.

Yamashita said the most recent incident should remind people to ensure bears remain afraid of people and to not rely on them as a food source. He said that every single night in Pitkin County, there are reports of bears who are trying to or have already successfully broken into homes, businesses and dumpsters.

“This is extremely worrisome. If people do not take this issue seriously, I believe it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed. We as a community have been lucky that injuries to humans this summer have been relatively minor, but these attacks should be taken as a serious warning to take action now,” he said.

CPW has more information on being “bear aware” on its website.

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