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Bear attack inside home in Aspen area leaves person with 'severe swipe injuries' to face, neck

Bear attack inside home in Aspen area leaves person with 'severe swipe injuries' to face, neck
Posted at 4:49 AM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 08:30:46-04

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — A bear attack inside a home left one person with "severe swipe injuries" early Friday in the Aspen, Colorado, area.

Randy Hampston, public information officer for the northwest region of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said a call about the attack came in at 1:28 a.m.

Hampston said the house, which is located in the Clear Creek neighborhood outside Aspen, has a lever door handle on its front door. He said some newer homes have this feature to be ADA compliant, but it makes entry much easier for bears.

"You’re talking about a 400-pound animal — they can push down with enough force to sometimes pop those locks," he said.

The homeowner heard noises in the living room and went to check on it, Hampston said. Then, he saw the large bear.

The bear swiped at the him, leaving him with severe lacerations to his head, neck and face.

The bear then ran out of the home, Hampston said. Other family members in the house called 911.

The injured homeowner was transported to a hospital with severe injuries to his face and neck, according to CPW. He is undergoing surgery, but is stable and his injuries are not life-threatening.

Hampston said CPW has been receiving reports of a bear in the area and believes this was the same one. He said he also believes it's the same bear that has been reportedly getting into trash in the area over the past few years. Past attempts to haze or trap it to relocate it elsewhere have been unsuccessful.

Wildlife officers are working in the area. A search for the bear is underway with the help of tracking dogs.

Because DNA evidence was collected in the home, wildlife officers will be able to test the DNA of a suspected bear to ensure it's the same one.

Once they find the bear, it will be euthanized due to its history of run-ins with humans and this attack, Hampston said.

He said while it's not rare to see a bear around Aspen, it is uncommon for one to get inside a home.

This marks the first bear attack in Aspen this year.

Three people reported a bear attack in Aspen last summer, he said. A hiker was attacked while walking along the Hunter Creek Trail, one person was attacked outside a resort, and a restaurant manager was bitten by a bear at a trash bin.

CPW recommends visiting its website to learn about how to bear-proof your home.

This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer at KMGH.