Bear attacks man on East Sopris Creek Road
SNOWMASS – A Snowmass man suffered minor injuries when he was attacked by a bear in his garage on Thursday morning, prompting authorities to shoot and kill the bear, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.The injured man, 71-year-old John Clark, did not require hospitalization, but was at a doctor’s office getting treatment when a reporter called the Clark home on East Sopris Creek Road on Thursday.Clark reportedly went into his garage at about 7 a.m. Thursday to check on his two Labrador retrievers, which live in the garage and for whom a garage door is left open so they can come and go between the garage and the yard. The dogs had been making noise since around 5 a.m., according to Suzanne Clark, John’s wife, and her husband had gone out earlier to see what was the matter but could not locate the Labs.But at about 7 a.m., Suzanne Clark said, her husband encountered the bear, which had gotten in through a door apparently to get to the dog’s food bowls. Despite Clark’s efforts to shoo the bear, it would not leave, Suzanne said.”The bear slashed through the back of his jacket,” she said, noting that it was a particularly heavy jacket that likely prevented the bear’s claws from doing greater damage. The bear latched its jaws on Clark’s arm at one point, and “he actually punched the bear.”Also, she said, the bear lacerated the backs of Clark’s legs, before he was able to get away and dash back into the house to call 9-1-1.Pitkin County deputy sheriff’s and Kevin Wright, district wildlife manager of the DOW, arrived at the Clarks’ home shortly after 7 a.m., according to a statement issued by the DOW. The bear, according to the DOW “behaved aggressively toward officers and the bear was shot and killed.”DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said the bear charged Wright, but he was not harmed. The dogs also were not harmed, Hampton said.The bear was a mature male, weighing approximately 350 pounds, and was believed to be on the older side due to the wear patterns of its teeth.Noting that there have been other incidents of bear intrusions in the neighborhood, Hampton said, “This could be the same bear,” but added that it is impossible to know for sure.Suzanne Clark said she was saddened by the incident, but thankful that her husband had worn a thick jacket and that neither she nor one of their grandchildren had been the ones checking on the dogs that morning.”I feel very sad that any animal has to be destroyed,” she said. “Maybe we’re all a little more casual than we need to be” about bears.Hampton reminded area residents that bears are preparing for hibernation and need to consume large quantities of food before winter hits, which means homeowners need to “secure trash, feed pets indoors, keep doors and windows closed and locked, clean up around fruit trees, remove bird feeders and thoroughly clean barbecue grills after use,” stated the DOW press release.According to the DOW, Colorado currently is home to between 8,000 and 12,000 black bears that, while “not typically aggressive,” are nevertheless “powerful predators that can become dangerous when habituated to human food sources.”Hampton noted that black bears rarely attack humans. He said the most recent injuries from bear attacks in Pitkin County were in July of 2004 and September of 1993, and were hunting- or camping-related.The two most recent fatalities from bear attacks, he said, were in Fremont County in 1993 and Grand County in 1971.
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