Elk NetworkColorado Suspends Search for Bear that Swatted Woman in Tent

General | July 6, 2022

Below is a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has suspended the search for a bear that swatted a tent, inadvertently injuring a woman inside where she, her husband and their two children were sleeping early Friday at a campground about 37 miles west of Trinidad.

The woman suffered scratches to her head after the bear swatted at the tent, striking her through the fabric. The woman was not seriously injured and did not seek medical attention.

“We called off the team of dogs and pulled the trap out,” said Mike Brown, CPW’s Area Wildlife Manager for the region. “Given the circumstances of this incident, we are confident there is not an aggressive bear in the area.”

The victim reported that around 2 a.m. Friday, the bear popped a beach ball outside their tent. The noise woke the victim’s 2-year-old daughter, who started crying. The victim moved her daughter to comfort her, likely brushing the side of the tent.

The bear reacted by swatting at the movement, tearing the tent fabric and scratching the victim on the head. Then the bear wandered off.

“The bear exhibited a reflex reaction to the movement of the tent in the dark,” Brown said. “It did not see the people inside or pursue them. It swatted the tent and moved on.”

CPW was alerted to the attack later Friday morning. District Wildlife Manager Bob Holder responded to the call and interviewed the victim who said she heard a bear sniffing near their tent at the Monument Lake Resort, located in excellent bear habitat.

Because the bear made contact with a human, even unwittingly, the incident is classified under CPW policy as an attack. If found, the bear would have been euthanized.

“This was just an unfortunate occurrence,” Brown said.

Brown said CPW’s contract houndsmen, agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), were called to the scene and were able to detect the bear’s scent across the highway and pursued the animal for miles without it stopping or treeing.

“The pursuit by the dogs and team had the effect of potentially locating the bear involved in addition to hazing other bears within the area,” Brown said.

Following the initial houndsmen efforts, additional hazing was done to help ensure bears develop a negative association with both humans and the campground.

“This is good news because it will drive those bears away from the resort,” Brown said.

In addition, Holder worked throughout the weekend educating the resort and its guests to be “Bear Aware” as well as working with the resort on bear-proofing their trash via electricity and bear-proof trash cans. He stressed the need for campers to take precautions while camping in bear country.

Brown said he’s confident the combination of hazing, electricity and education will help keep the resort and its guests safe in the coming weeks.

“This incident also illustrates the need to call CPW immediately following an incident like this,” he said. “With every delay, our chances of tracking  or catching  a target animal drop significantly.”

(Photo credit:  Colorado Parks and Wildlife)