Bear that bit restaurant manager in Aspen euthanized

(Photo: D.J. Hannigan)

ASPEN, Colo. — The bear that bit a restaurant manager in Aspen Sunday evening was found Monday, and was euthanized.

The bear was found within town limits the day after the attack, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and DNA test results received Thursday confirmed the 400 pound bear was the same that bit the man after he tried to scare it out of the restaurant’s dumpster.

The bear was healthy, and tested negative for rabies.

“We had numerous officers and assistance from Aspen PD as we searched for the bear all day on Monday,” said Matt Yamashita, Area Wildlife Manager, in the release. “We encountered two other bears in town that did not match the description. Those bears were hazed but not captured.”

The bear was found, Yamashita said in the release, on the second-story balcony of a business one block away from the restaurant where it attacked the man.

Yamashita said because the bear was so large, had attacked a person and continued to roam in town limits, it was a serious threat to people.

“A bear this size and unafraid of humans could have easily killed a person with little effort,” said Yamashita in the release. “It’s unfortunate this bear had to die for this reason, especially when you consider it was totally preventable. Based on our experience, there was no chance this bear could be rehabilitated after it bit a person.”

Aspen has had other reports of bear attacks this year, and, according to the release, 911 calls about bear encounters in the area have varied between 5-20 a day since mid-June.

“At least two or three of the daily calls include bears inside homes or attempting to break into homes while frightened residents hide in bedrooms and closets,” the release stated.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife warned in the release that bears are starting to prepare for hibernation.

“For some bears, natural foods may not be enough so they will come into human-populated areas in search of an easy meal,” said Yamashita. “If bears have easy access to food, they will keep coming back, and that puts people at significant risk.

While Colorado Parks and Wildlife will do what it can to protect the public, Yamashita said people have a responsibility to protect themselves. Allowing bears to feed from dumpsters and trash cans is not sustainable.

“This is in no way a normal, acceptable situation,” he said in the release. “Yes, the habitat around Aspen is perfect for bears, but that should not be an excuse to let them feed out of your dumpster, your trash can or your pantry. Consider this a warning — people need to understand how serious and dangerous this is, accept their responsibility, then take action immediately.”

The following are tips from Colorado Parks and Wildlife when dealing with bears:

  • Close and lock all first-floor windows and doors when you leave the house and at night before you go to bed. Install sturdy grates or bars on windows if you must leave them open.
  • Keep car doors and windows closed and locked if you park outside. Make sure there’s nothing with an odor in your vehicle, including food wrappers, candy, gum, air fresheners, trash, lotions and lip balms.
  • Close and lock garage doors and windows at night and when you’re not home; garage doors should be down if you are in the house but not outside.
  • Install extra-sturdy doors if you have a freezer, refrigerator, pet food, birdseed, or other attractants stored in your garage.
  • Remove any tree limbs that might provide access to upper-level decks and windows.
  • Replace exterior lever-style door handles with good quality round door knobs that bears can’t pull or push open.
  • Don’t leave trash out overnight unless it’s in an approved bear-proof enclosure or container. Be sure to research all local ordinances and regulations if vacationing.
  • Clean your trash cans regularly to remove residual odors.
  • Don’t store food of any kind in an unlocked garage, flimsy shed, on or under your deck.
  • Don’t leave anything with an odor outside, near open windows or in your vehicle, even if you’re home. That includes scented candles, air fresheners, lip balms and lotions.
  • Clean-up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck, cleaning your BBQ grills after each use. Don’t allow food odors to linger.
  • Bird feeders are a major bear attractant. Only use bird feeders in winter, when bears are hibernating.
  • If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to rot on the ground. Electric fences provide good protection for small orchards.
  • If a bear comes close to your home, scare it away. Loud noises like a firm yell, clapping your hands, banging on pots and pans or blowing an air horn sends most bears running.
  • Utilize electric fencing, unwelcome mats and scent deterrents like ammonia to teach bears that your property is not bear-friendly.
  • If a bear enters your home, open doors and windows so it can leave the same way it got in. Don’t approach the bear or block escape routes.
  • Never approach a bear. If a bear won’t leave, call your local CPW office or Colorado State Patrol.
  • If a bear presents an immediate threat to human safety, call 911.
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