DNA test confirms bear killed by wildlife officers attacked Grand Junction girl
GRAND JUNCTION — Based on DNA evidence, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has confirmed that the bear killed by wildlife officers is the same bear responsible for attacking a young girl at her home in East Orchard Mesa near Grand Junction in the early-morning hours of Sunday, May 13.
The animal is described as a two-year-old male, cinnamon-colored black bear, weighing 150 pounds. The necropsy revealed the bear was in good condition with no signs of diseases. Rabies testing was negative.
Wildlife officers killed the bear later the evening of May 13 in the yard of a residence located approximately a half-mile away from the incident. Before killing it, the two officers say the bear came within a few feet of their vehicle, looking into the open window as they monitored a nearby bear trap.
Officials at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins conducted a necropsy on the carcass Monday, May 14. DNA evidence delivered to the Wyoming Game and Fish Laboratory confirmed it was the bear that attacked the girl. Those tests typically take a week to complete.
“From the moment we first learned of the attack through confirmation that we killed the right bear, there have been a lot of dedicated people working very hard to protect the public and conduct a thorough, timely investigation,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Regional Manager JT Romatzke said. “We continue to pray for the little girl and her family and they remain in our thoughts. We are glad to hear she is doing better. It gives us a great sense of accomplishment to let (the family) know we have dealt with the bear that attacked their daughter.”
Romatzke said personnel with the USDA’s Wildlife Services searched the area with hounds early Tuesday morning, finding no evidence of recent bear activity.
Wildlife officers will pull all three traps from the area, in place since the evening of the attack.
Black bear is the name of the species and does not describe their color. They can be cinnamon, or honey-colored, brown, blond or black. Black bear is the only bear species in Colorado.
Depending on the season, food supply and gender, black bears may weigh from 100 to 450 pounds. They can be five feet tall when standing on their back legs.
Although considered carnivores, black bears’ natural diet typically consists of berries, acorns and insects. In Colorado and many areas of the country where bears are common, trash, dirty campsites, bird feeders and food purposely provided by humans can condition a bear to seek food sources in residential areas, a leading cause of human/bear conflicts.
For more information about preventing bear conflicts, visit the CPW website.