Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are looking for an aggressive bear that bit a woman on the thigh as she and her husband hiked on the Hunter Creek Trail near Lone Pine Road in Aspen at approximately 9:15 a.m. Monday.
The woman reported that she and her husband were walking back to Aspen when they saw a bear walking toward them on the trail. The woman told wildlife officers that they tried to give the bear space and stepped off the trail. As the bear walked by, she said it suddenly turned, charged and bit her before it ran off toward Aspen and disappeared from view.
According to investigating officers, the bite wound did not appear serious. CPW is not releasing the identity of the woman.
CPW officers have called in experts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to assist with tracking the bear, described as light brown and weighing approximately 200-300 pounds. As of Monday evening, the bear had not been located.
CPW officials said that considering the attack occurred near Aspen, it is possible the bear may enter city limits before it is found. They urge all residents to be cautious.
"This is an aggressive bear and by policy, we will put it down if found," CPW officer Matt Yamashita said in a press release. “But until we find it, the public should remember what to do if they see any bear. If it appears aggressive or shows no fear of humans, do not approach it. Haze it away by yelling or banging pots and pans, then call CPW or 911 immediately."
Yamashita said that bears usually stay away from people but if a bear has been fed or has lost its natural fear of humans, they can be extremely dangerous.
If you see a bear, CPW officials offer these basic tips:
• Do not run from a bear, stand your ground and talk firmly to the animal.
• If it continues to approach, throw rocks and sticks, wave your arms and yell loudly.
• If the bear attacks, fight back as aggressively as possible and do not stop until the bear runs off.
"Fortunately, these incidents remain very rare," said Yamashita. “But when people and bears interact, it can increase the possibility of a dangerous conflict. This woman was lucky that she was not seriously injured."
The section of the Hunter Creek Trail up to the Lani White Trail remains closed until further notice while officers search for the bear.
CPW will conduct a full necropsy on the animal if it is found.
For more information about bears in Colorado, including hiking in bear country, visit cpw.state.co.us/bears.