Bear roots through trash

“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.” – CPW Area Wildlife Matt Yamashita.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Aspen Police officers responded to the 300 block of East Hopkins Avenue in Aspen recently after a large black bear bit a local restaurant manager, resulting in four deep puncture wounds to the man’s leg.

According to CPW Area Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita, the man was attempting to scare a bear out of a dumpster after his employees refused to throw away trash due to fear 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.

“By attempting to scare the bear out of a dumpster, the man exposed himself to significant danger,” said Yamashita. “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 questioned why the dumpster was open in the first place, allowing the bear to find an easy meal.

The victim described the black bear as approximately 350-400 lbs, considered large for the species.

According to the CPW officer that examined the bite, the dimensions of the puncture wounds on the man’s leg confirmed the bite came from a large animal.

In the hours after the attack, Yamashita and local CPW officer Kurtis Tesch searched the alley for any additional physical evidence, as well as worked with the Aspen Police Department to search the area for signs of the bear. As part of the ongoing investigation, CPW officers will attempt to collect DNA samples from the man’s clothing to help identify the correct, offending animal.

“It’s unfortunate, but this bear will be put down when we find it,” said Yamashita. “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.”

Prior to this incident, a 230-pound bear bit a woman as she hiked on the Hunter Creek Trail, May 27. CPW officers killed the bear several days later. A necropsy revealed the bear’s stomach was full of birdseed obtained from backyard bird feeders.

On July 27, an approximately 500-pound bear swiped at a man at the Aspen Meadows Resort resulting in torn clothing and a scratched arm.

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