Bear hunt called off after wildlife officials lose trail in southern Colorado


State and federal wildlife officials called off their hunt for a bear that swatted a woman early Friday morning as she slept in a tent near Trinidad with her husband and 2-year-old daughter.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, alongside a federal team of search dogs, had been looking for the bear since Friday morning, department spokesman Bill Vogrin said.

“But they were unable to catch it,” Vogrin said. “At this point, there’s no sense in continuing.”

The bear scratched a woman through the fabric on her tent early Friday morning, Vogrin said. She suffered scratches to her head but didn’t seek medical treatment.

All the same, because the bear made contact with a human the encounter was classified as an attack and officials were looking to find and kill the bear. That’s an unfortunate result, Vogrin said, because any time humans and bears come in contact, the bears tend to suffer.

“This was not a dangerous bear by any stretch,” he said. “This was a bear that saw movement in a tent in the dark and reacted.”

In this type of situation killing the bear is typically the best option, Vogrin said. If officials capture and relocate a bear that has already come to rely on human food sources — like trash or meals left at campsites — the animals can still travel hundreds of miles back to their original location. And their learned behavior of depending on humans for food remains.

Officials searched for several days but couldn’t find the same bear from the Friday morning encounter, Vogrin said.

“We’ve got dogs tracking a scent and it rained all weekend,” Vogrin said.

They called off the search Sunday and decided to educate campers and workers in the area on how they can best avoid attracting bears with food, Vogrin said.

Experts told The Denver Post earlier this month that Colorado’s black bears appear to be growing more brazen in their search for food. This is partially because many of them have lost their fear of humans.

Bears are rarely aggressive toward humans, Vogrin said. And when they are state officials step in.

Between 2015 to 2021, Colorado Parks and Wildlife euthanized 775 bears and captured and relocated an additional 402, according to data from the department.


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