Authorities continue search for bear that bit hiker in Aspen


Credit: Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times

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ASPEN, Colo. — Wildlife officials were searching Tuesday for a black bear that bit a woman’s leg as she hiked in the Aspen area.

The woman and her husband told wildlife officials they saw the bear Monday walking toward them on a trail near Aspen and stepped aside to give it space to pass.

As the bear walked by, they say it charged the woman and bit her thigh before running off, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.

The woman was taken to a hospital. Officials said her injury did not appear serious.

Dogs were unable to find the bear Monday so wildlife officials later set two traps for the animal, described as light brown and weighing between 200 and 300 pounds, The Aspen Times reported.

Because the bear was aggressive, wildlife officers plan to euthanize it if they find it.

Wildlife officials advise people to stay a safe distance from wildlife by following the “rule of thumb” — extending your arm fully and being able to block out sight of the animal with your thumb.

People should not run away and instead should stand their ground and talk firmly to the animal, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said.

If a bear continues to approach, people should throw rocks and sticks and wave their arms and yell. If that fails, fight back as aggressively as possible until the bear runs off.

Porras said it’s hard to second-guess the handling of a particular encounter but it appears the hikers did the right thing Monday by not fleeing.

Black bears usually stay away from people, but those that rely on human food and have lost their fear of people can become aggressive.

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