Colorado: Bear bites man inside tent at food-strewn campsite

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A bear habituated to human food searches a trash bin in Colorado. Photo via Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Wildlife managers say they will try to trap and kill the bear

Staff Report

FRISCO — Camping restrictions are in place at a Colorado campground after a bear bit a man inside a tent. The Dearhamer Campground,  southeast of Glenwood Springs at Ruedi Reservoir,  has been temporarily restricted to hard-sided campers.

The man, who was sleeping in the tent with his wife and one-year-old child, said they woke up about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when his wife heard scratching, then saw paws on their air mattress.

At the same moment, the man said he felt a bite on his left forearm, but was able to shake the animal off by hitting it with his free arm. He said the animal ran away, jumping over the tent in the process.

After the incident, the man drove himself to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs where he was treated and released for two puncture wounds on his left forearm.

“The injuries were not severe, thankfully,” said Perry Will, the local wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “This bear was investigating the tent and campsite, looking for a meal. It probably responded to the movement inside the tent and bit down.”

“The individual initially thought he had been attacked by a mountain lion; however, the details of the event and evidence at the scene, including a paw print, indicate that this was a bear,” said CPW district wildlife manager Matt Yamashita. “In addition, there were coolers full of food and freshly caught fish, trash and other attractants that had been rummaged through, so we are confident about what did this. It’s another example of less than ideal campsite conditions leading to a bear conflict.”

In June of last year, the White River National Forest issued an order prohibiting the storage of food or refuge in campsites except in bear-resistant containers or locked vehicles.

Yamashita said that the tent was the only one in the campground, with all other campers staying in hard-sided and pop-up type campers.

“There was one small bag of food and a few other scented items in the tent that may have attracted the bear’s attention” he said. “It’s a good reminder that bears are curious in nature and will often lean on or push against structures when investigating smells and searching for food which is why it’s important for all outdoor enthusiasts to properly bear proof their belongings when in bear country.”

Will added that CPW’s primary concern is human health and safety. He says that because this bear has has bitten a person, learned to find food in human campsites and will likely continue this behavior, he and his officers will try to trap the animal and put it down.

“That is the really unfortunate aspect of situations like this,” said Will. “People are less than careful with food and trash, and the bear pays the price.”

Campers are reminded that unkempt campsites are more likely to attract a bear, leading to potentially dangerous conflicts.

“There was a bear-proof food bin at this campsite, but it only had one bag of chips in it,” said Yamashita. “The campers told us they had intended to use the bins, but the bear arrived before they did.”

CPW says that camping remains a safe activity overall and the chance of a bear encounter is relatively small, but to be responsible while camping, the agency recommends the following practices:

– NEVER intentionally feed a bear or any other wild animal

– Place all garbage in bear-proof trash containers or in your trunk

– Store food in bear-proof lockers or in your trunk

– Don’t bring anything with an odor into your tent

– Don’t sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking

– Lock RVs and vehicles, especially at night

– If a bear is too close, make it feel unwelcome by yelling and waving your arms

– If it approaches, throw rocks and sticks at it. Do not turn and run!

– If it attacks, fight back as aggressively as possible!

– Report an aggressive bear or conflicts to CPW immediately

For more information, visit www.cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeCampingBearCountry.aspx

For more information about the Dearhamer Campground restrictions, contact the White River National Forest at 970-945-2521.

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3 thoughts on “Colorado: Bear bites man inside tent at food-strewn campsite

  1. Why should they kill the bear? That’s uncalled for. The family should be fined for littering, and be prevented from using any park in the State forever.

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