Bear jumps out of dumpster, bites downtown Aspen restaurant manager |

Bear jumps out of dumpster, bites downtown Aspen restaurant manager

Third bear-human incident this summer in Aspen area, CPW says

A trail closure sign blocks the lower Hunter Creek Valley trail to hikers in May after an unprovoked bear attack was reported.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times

The manager of a downtown Aspen restaurant was bitten by a bear rummaging through garbage in the alley dumpster late Sunday night, police said Monday.

And while the Steakhouse 316 manager was not seriously injured, the restaurant received a $500 unsecured garbage ticket from the city, its second trash violation in the past two weeks, said Sgt. Rick Magnuson of the Aspen Police Department.

It is the third bear-human interaction in Aspen this summer, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.

The latest bite occurred about 11:30 p.m. Sunday in the alley behind the restaurant after staff members throwing away trash found the approximately 400-pound bear in the dumpster, Magnuson said. The staff told the manager and he went outside to try to scare the bear away.

However, as he clapped his hands to try to get the bear out of the dumpster, another staff member threw a bag of garbage over a fence and into the container, which spooked the bear, Magnuson said. The manager told police he was in the way of the bear’s exit, and it bit him on the back of his upper left thigh as it ran past him, Magnuson said.

The manager sustained two puncture wounds and a ruined pair of suit pants, but declined an ambulance ride to the hospital, he said.

“He called it just a scratch,” Magnuson said.

Messages left Monday at the restaurant and on the manager’s cellphone were not returned.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s area manager was informed of the bite and called Aspen officers back about 2:40 a.m. Monday to report that he couldn’t find the bear, but had taken the manager’s bear-saliva-soaked pants in an effort to later identify the animal through DNA, Magnuson said.

A message left for the wildlife manager Monday was not returned.

In a statement sent Monday afternoon, CPW area manager Matt Yamashita said this is the “exact scenario” wildlife officials have been worried about this summer.

“By attempting to scare the bear out of a dumpster, the man exposed himself to significant danger,” Yamashita said in the statement. “It is likely the bear felt cornered and it reacted aggressively. As we have warned over and over again, this is the exact scenario that can happen when people and bears interact, and why it is so dangerous for bears to be around people.”

This is the third bear attack in the Aspen area this year.

On May 27 a woman hiking on the Hunter Creek Trail was bitten on the leg and sustained two puncture wounds to her thigh. On July 27, a man at the Aspen Meadows Resort sustained scratches to his arm when a near 500-pound bear swiped at him after the bruin did not show fear toward other humans.

The bear in the May incident was tracked down and killed; the bear in the July incident has not been located, CPW said.

Steakhouse 316 received a $250 unsecured garbage ticket Aug. 6 after police officers noticed the dumpster was open that morning, Magnuson said. The business will receive the $500 ticket for Sunday’s nights incident.