Aspen tourist bitten by bear: Seriously, is this really happening? |

Aspen tourist bitten by bear: Seriously, is this really happening?

Staff report
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials wait at the lower Hunter Creek Valley trailhead (near the Hunter Creek apartments) on Monday for dog teams to track down a black bear that reportedly attacked a hiker earlier that day.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times

The Aspen tourist bitten by a bear Memorial Day on the Hunter Creek Trail said in a recent TV interview that the animal didn’t appear particularly bothered by her presence.

“He didn’t strike me as very aggressive,” said Janet Jansson, who spoke Thursday to Fox 31 in Denver. “He was a confused and frustrated bear.”

Jansson, who was visiting from Washington, was hiking with her husband about 10 minutes up the trail from the Hunter Creek Apartments when the attack occurred, state wildlife officials have said.

“All of a sudden down the path came a very large bear,” she told the TV station in video interview. “He was a beautiful bear, very fluffy, chocolate-brown color, quite large.

“First of all, it didn’t seem real. Like, ‘Seriously, this is happening?’ We both moved off the trail. We both had some training — do not run (or) try to get away — so we tried to get as far away as possible from the bear but we had a stream behind us. That limited how far we could back up.”

The bear then continued toward them.

“We thought he was going to walk past us, but then he randomly, almost as an afterthought, turned and pushed me over with his head and bit my thigh,” said Jansson, who is a scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and got her masters at Colorado State University.

While she said she doesn’t remember being knocked down, she does remember yelling at the bear “at the top of my lungs, ‘No, go away.’”

“He shook his head and then rambled off,” Jansson said.

She said at first she didn’t realize she’d been bitten until she saw the blood.

“It was bleeding quite a bit,” Jansson said. “I had a fleece my husband soaked in a stream and it was cold. I laid down, elevated my leg. Nothing was broken. It was a bad puncture wound and bruise but nothing was broken. So I walked back down the trail and we called a taxi and went to the emergency room.”

Jansson said she was “pretty calm” at the hospital until Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers told her they’d have to kill the bear, “at which point I broke down and cried.”

“It breaks my heart, but I do (understand) because in this case the bear was not afraid,” she said. “I found out this is a path used by kids. It’s close to the city. Thank goodness an old, gnarly lady, not a child (encountered the bear) … (it) could’ve been disastrous.”

Wildlife officers shot and killed the bear May 31 near the spot where Jansson was bitten. The bear’s stomach was almost entirely full of birdseed, they said later.

That indicates it was feeding in people’s backyards and likely had become used to humans, they said.