Bear attacks woman in Aspen apartment | AspenTimes.com

Bear attacks woman in Aspen apartment

Joel Stonington
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” An Aspen woman was hospitalized early Wednesday morning after a bear entered her apartment and slashed her across the face.

Aspen Valley Hospital representatives said Judy Garrison was treated for her wounds and released. Garrison’s daughter, who asked to remain anonymous, said her mother spent the morning at the hospital, where she received numerous stitches to her face.

“She’s really lucky to have her eye,” the daughter said. “Her eye looks like … Rocky.”

The attack occurred around 1:30 a.m., when Garrison woke up because she thought she heard a noise, police said. Garrison entered her kitchen where she encountered a bear, police said. Since Garrison was in its way, the bruin apparently had no way out of the kitchen, police said. It then stood up and swatted at Garrison. Police said it did not appear that Garrison suffered significant injuries other than to her face.

Garrison’s 14-year-old son also was in the Castle Ridge apartment, near Aspen Valley Hospital, and called 911 after the attack woke him up.

The bear fled the scene, prompting Colorado Division of Wildlife officials to set up two bear traps in the Castle Ridge apartment complex, which the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority owns. Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said the Wildlife Division will kill the bear if it is trapped.

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“The kitchen was a mess,” Garrison’s daughter said. “The cops cleaned up a lot of it. It’s not that bad, just a lot of blood.”

There was a “Do not disturb” sign on the front door of her apartment Wednesday afternoon.

While authorities don’t know when the bear entered the apartment’s unlocked sliding door, Garrison’s 9-year-old grandson had been asleep on the living room couch until midnight, when Garrison’s daughter dropped by to pick him up. The couch was a few feet from the unlocked sliding glass door, where the bear entered.

This is the second incident in which a bear has injured someone in the past week. On Oct. 11, a bear attacked 71-year-old John Clark in his garage on East Sopris Creek in Snowmass.

Other occupants of the Castle Ridge Apartment complex called the attack “scary” and said it has made residents jittery.

“It’s really not a good thing ” poor lady,” said Ron Burdette, head of maintenance for the complex. “I’ve notified all other residents in the community. We’ve told people to be aware and watch what’s going on.”

Until Wednesday, Burdette said, there hasn’t been much bear activity beyond the usual few bears who get into trash cans during the summer.

Hampton said attacks by black bears are uncommon but that they can become more dangerous when bears panic in human areas. He encouraged people to close and lock doors and not to have food sources such as fruit trees, bird feeders and pet food outside.

Hampton said the DOW has euthanized 12 bears in Aspen and Pitkin County this season and relocated 24. Wildlife officers said 12 orphaned cubs have been delivered to a rehabilitation center in Silt.

Hampton estimated that at least 25 media outlets called him about this bear attack.

Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com