Breaking news: Bear attacks woman at her Aspen home
August 18, 2009
ASPEN – State wildlife officials are attempting to capture a bear that attacked an Aspen homeowner Monday night. The animal will be euthanized if it is caught.
“A person certainly has a right to feel safe in their own home,” said Perry Will, area wildlife manager at the division’s Glenwood Springs office, in a press release issued Tuesday by the DOW. “This was an unprovoked attack and, if located, the offending bear will be put down. Bears that break into secured homes and bears that are aggressive toward people are too dangerous to relocate.”
According to the DOW, the woman went to the main floor of her home, in the Cemetery Lane neighborhood west of town, at about 10:10 p.m., intending to work in her home office. As she passed through the home’s entryway, her small dog began barking frantically and she was confronted by a large bear. The woman screamed and turned to open the front door to get the animal out of the house, but the bear struck her, leaving lacerations on her back and chest, the DOW reported.
The woman, whose name and condition were not released, was able to flee to an upstairs bedroom and call 911. The bear remained in the home for a short time, but left as police responded, according to the DOW.
Wildlife officers arrived a short time later and began efforts to locate the bear, which apparently entered the home by forcing open a pair of unlocked French doors. Officers found no attractants that might have lured the bear to the property.
The DOW believes the bear many be the same animal responsible for other entries and break-ins to homes in the area.
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“Most of these cases start with bears getting into a home through an open door or window,” said Will in the press release. “Once they get in and are rewarded by finding food, it is fairly easy for these powerful animals to force their way into other homes in search of food.”
The DOW and Aspen officials have been urging area residents to keep doors and windows locked this summer to minimize bear problems, which have been rampant of late. At least three bears from the Aspen area have been euthanized so far this year, and a number of others have been trapped and relocated.
Wildlife officers who have examined area natural food sources are reporting some discouraging findings, said the DOW. The moist spring may have been too moist in some areas and appears to have lead to some plant health issues. Damaged berry crops and localized crop failures have been observed, as has the presence of some form of plant “rust” and some kind of fungus or mold, which impairs productivity. Wildlife officials are reaching out to plant ecologists to determine the cause and extent of damage to natural food sources.
Despite these localized food failures, there do appear to be other areas where berry crops are in good shape; however bears may be spending less time looking for those areas when human food sources are readily available, the DOW said.
In addition, the onset of cooler weather may signal that challenges for residents in bear areas may get worse before they get better, said Kevin Wright, DOW district wildlife manager for the Aspen area.
“In the past few days, we’ve seen temperatures dropping during the night,” Wright said in the press release. “These cooler temperatures will signal bears to increase their calorie intake and prepare for hibernation.”
This article will be updated.