Bear bites woman on Hunter Creek Trail near Aspen, officials set traps in area | VailDaily.com

Bear bites woman on Hunter Creek Trail near Aspen, officials set traps in area

State wildlife officials have set traps to catch the "aggressive" bear

Aspen Times Staff Report
Hunter Creek Trail was closed after a woman was attacked by a bear on Monday.
Jeremy Wallace, Aspen Times

UPDATE (1:20 p.m.): State wildlife officials set two traps for a bear that bit a woman hiking Monday near the Hunter Creek Apartments.

Kurtis Tesch, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer for the Upper Roaring Fork Valley, said Tuesday he’s monitoring the traps for the bear after hounds were unable to locate it Monday.

“We’re waiting to see what happens,” he said Tuesday morning.

The black bear ­— which Tesch believes is a yearling or 2-year-old — bit the woman about 9:15 a.m., he said. She suffered two puncture wounds to her thigh.

The woman, who was in her mid-50s and visiting from Washington, was hiking on the Hunter Creek Trail with her husband when they saw the bear coming down the trail toward them. They stepped off the trail to give the bear room, and as it passed it bit her then ran off, Tesch said.

The couple did not have a dog with them and was not yelling at the bear at the time of the attack, he said.

The woman, who asked authorities not to release her name, was composed after the attack — which occurred near Lone Pine Road — and was upset when informed that the bear would have to be killed, Tesch said.

Aggressive animals who attack humans are automatically killed so others are not attacked, he said.

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Wildlife and local law enforcement are tracking an “aggressive bear” that bit a hiker on the thigh Monday morning while she was on a trail near Aspen, officials said Monday evening.

The incident occurred about 9:15 a.m. on the Hunter Creek Trail near Lone Pine Road when a woman, who has not been identified, and her husband were walking back to Aspen, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release.

“They saw a bear walking toward them on the trail. The woman says they tried to give the bear space and stepped off the trail,” the release said. “As the bear walked by, she says it suddenly turned, charged and bit her before it ran off and disappeared from view.”

The bite wound did not appear serious, the CPW said, and a deputy with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital.

As of Monday evening the bear, which was described as light brown and weighing between 200 and 300 pounds, had not been located. CPW public information officer Mike Porras said just after 7:30 p.m. Monday that the search had been called off for the evening.

Officials with dog teams were in the area Monday afternoon trying to track down the bruin, but officers on the scene said they were having trouble because there were so many bear tracks in the area.

Wildlife officials said because the attack happened near town, people should remain cautious if they see a bear in or around Aspen. Officers were stationed in the parking lot at the Hunter Creek apartment complex.

“This is an aggressive bear and by policy, we will put it down if found,” CPW Officer Matt Yamashita said in a statement. “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.”

The section of the Hunter Creek Trail up to the Lani White Trail will remain closed until further notice while the search continues for the bear, CPW officials said.

“Fortunately, these incidents remain very rare,” Yamashita said. “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.”