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The bear swiped the homeowner with its paw, resulting in "severe lacerations" to the victim's head and neck

By Joelle Goldstein
July 10, 2020 12:37 PM
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black bear colorado
Black bear
| Credit: Matthew Jonas/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty

Authorities in Colorado are searching for a black bear they say entered an Aspen home and viciously attacked its owner, leaving the victim with severe injuries that required to get surgery.

The incident occurred early Friday morning after the homeowner heard noises in their house around 1:30 a.m. and found the bear inside the home, according to a press release from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).

Officials said the large bear entered through the front door, which reportedly had a lever handle, and swiped the owner with its paw once they encountered each other in the living room, ABC affiliate KMGH reported.

"You’re talking about a 400-pound animal — they can push down with enough force to sometimes pop those locks," CPW Public Information Officer Randy Hampston told the outlet.

The attack left the victim with "severe lacerations" to their head and neck and they were transported to a hospital, where they were required to undergo surgery. Currently, the homeowner is stable with non-life-threatening injuries, according to CPW.

The bear, meanwhile, fled the home after the attack. Authorities are now searching for the wild animal using tracking hounds, and intend on euthanizing it once it is found, CPW said.

Officials believe this bear has a history of run-ins with humans, noting that they think its the same one that has been "frequenting the Castle Creek neighborhood for several days," and "getting into trash in the area for the past couple of years."

Despite efforts to haze, trap or relocate the wild animal, CPW authorities have been unsuccessful and the bear has managed to remain free.

Hampston also noted to KMGH that they have DNA evidence from the Aspen home and will be able to test the DNA of the suspected bear to make sure it is the same one before euthanizing it.

"There is nothing to indicate that this homeowner did anything wrong that attracted the bear," he told the local outlet. "We’ll be investigating what led up to all of this, but this is a person in their home, asleep at night and a bear that has become too acclimated to just being around people ... to the point that it broke into his house."

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The incident marks the first bear attack that has occurred in Aspen this year, CPW said. In 2019, there were three reported bear-human attacks in the area.

Officials are using the attack as a reminder to Colorado residents to bear-proof their homes. This includes keeping all windows and doors closed and locked, burning food off barbeque grills and cleaning them after every use, avoiding leaving food outside or in your vehicles and being responsible about trash.

"Bears are incredibly intelligent animals, to the point that we know they’ll remember where they got food up to a year after they found food in a location," Hampston told KMGH. "So, they have a real affinity to food. And they’re driven by food... So, once they learn that they may get food out of a car or out of home, it’s very difficult at that point to do anything."

Generally, though, Hampston said it is rare for a bear to enter homes or willingly be around humans.

"Bears do not typically go into houses looking for food unless they get to the point that they know what’s in there and when it gets to that point, there’s not much that we can do," he added.