ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say a third bear attack this year in Aspen highlights serious concerns about bears roaming through populated areas. CPW officials and Aspen Police were called to the 300 block of East Hopkins Avenue around 11:30 Sunday night.
According to CPW Area Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita, a large black bear bit a local restaurant manager, resulting in four deep puncture wounds to the man’s leg. Yamashita said the man was attempting to scare a 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, Yamashita said 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., which is 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.
As part of the investigation, CPW officers will attempt to collect DNA samples from the man’s clothing to help identify the animal.
“If people do not take this issue seriously, I believe it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed,” said Yamashita. “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.”
On May 27, a 230 lb. bear bit a woman as she hiked on the Hunter Creek Trail. 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 estimated 500 lb. bear swiped at a man at the Aspen Meadows Resort resulting in torn clothing and a scratched arm. Several witnesses reported that the bear had previously approached several people, exhibiting no fear. CPW officers are still looking for that bear.
For more information about being bear aware, visit cpw.state.co.us/bears.