MESA COUNTY, Colo. — A 5-year-old girl from the Western Slope is expected to survive after being attacked by a bear. Wildlife officers in Mesa County are now searching for the bear to make sure no one else is attacked.
Doctors at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction say the girl is in good spirits and is surrounded by her family and stuffed animals.
The attack happened about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
The girl’s mom heard her daughter yelling outside their home east of Orchard Mesa, between Grand Junction and Palisade. The mom found a large black bear dragging the girl, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“She came out … she yelled at the animal,” CPW spokesman Mike Porras. “She screamed at it — and by doing so, she probably saved her little girl’s life.”
The mother told wildlife officers the girl went outside after hearing noises she thought could have been made by a dog.
“[The girl] has been the calmest person in the room all day long,” said pediatric surgeon Dr. Charles Breaux of St. Mary’s Medical Center.
Breaux said the the bear bit the girl multiple times on her backside. Breaux said the girl was in good condition late Sunday.
“Fortunately, she had no life-threatening injuries,” Breaux said. “No injuries to her brain or chest organs or abdominal organs and no fractures.”
Doctors cleaned and repaired the wounds in a surgery lasting one hour, 45 minutes that required more 77 stitches. Doctors will monitor the girl to ensure she doesn’t have rabies.
Family members have asked for privacy and chose not to speak to the media.
Federal and state wildlife officers are using traps in an effort to capture the bear that is now considered dangerous.
“The goal is to trap the bear, and if we do, we are going to put that bear down,” Porras said.
While bear attacks on humans are rare, Porras said there is growing concern.
State officials have seen an increase in bear conflicts over the years as more people continue moving to Colorado and push farther into bear country.