Bear bites hiker on Hunter Creek Trail near Aspen; woman OK, officials tracking bruin

bear encounter tips

If you see a bear, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials offer these basic tips:

­— Do not run from a bear, stand your ground and talk firmly to the animal;

— If it continues to approach, throw rocks and sticks, wave your arms and yell loudly;

— If the bear attacks, fight back as aggressively as possible and do not stop until the bear runs off.

Wildlife and local law enforcement are tracking an “aggressive bear” that bit a hiker on the thigh Monday morning while she was on a trail near Aspen, officials said Monday evening.

The incident occurred about 9:15 a.m. on the Hunter Creek Trail near Lone Pine Road when a woman, who has not been identified, and her husband were walking back to Aspen, according to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release.

“They saw a bear walking toward them on the trail. The woman says they tried to give the bear space and stepped off the trail,” the release said. “As the bear walked by, she says it suddenly turned, charged and bit her before it ran off and disappeared from view.”

The bite wound did not appear serious, the CPW said, and a deputy with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said the woman was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital.

As of Monday evening the bear, which was described as light brown and weighing between 200 and 300 pounds, had not been located. CPW public information officer Mike Porras said just after 7:30 p.m. Monday that the search had been called off for the evening.

Officials with dog teams were in the area Monday afternoon trying to track down the bruin, but officers on the scene said they were having trouble because there were so many bear tracks in the area.

Wildlife officials said because the attack happened near town, people should remain cautious if they see a bear in or around Aspen. Officers were stationed in the parking lot at the Hunter Creek apartment complex.

“This is an aggressive bear and by policy, we will put it down if found,” CPW Officer Matt Yamashita said in a statement. “But until we find it, the public should remember what to do if they see any bear. If it appears aggressive or shows no fear of humans, do not approach it. Haze it away by yelling or banging pots and pans, then call CPW or 911 immediately.”

The section of the Hunter Creek Trail up to the Lani White Trail will remain closed until further notice while the search continues for the bear, CPW officials said.

“Fortunately, these incidents remain very rare,” Yamashita said. “But when people and bears interact, it can increase the possibility of a dangerous conflict. This woman was lucky that she was not seriously injured.”