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Colorado Camper Survives Bear Attack

July 18, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

A teenage boy sleeping in a tent at a campground near Leadville, Colo., was grabbed by a black bear and bitten early Friday (July 15), wildlife officials said.

The bear was tracked and killed Friday evening, KMGH-TV, Denver, reported.

The attack occurred around 4 a.m. in the Quail Mountain Recreation Area, which is private property in the Twin Lakes area, said wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.

The victim, Rick Voss, was with his family, participating in the Colorado Bow Hunters Association’s annual jamboree.

The bear had gotten into a cooler at the campsite and had eaten some food before he stuck his head into the tent and chomped on the 13-year-old boy’s leg, Hampton said.

“The kid woke up. The bear was attached to his leg. He screamed and fought back …and other people who heard the commotion woke up and chased the bear away,” Hampton said.

The victim, said to be 14 or 15 years old, required some medical attention, but his bite wounds did not appear to be life-threatening, Hampton said. His parents drove him to a hospital in Leadville. The boy was then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

Another boy, who was sleeping in the tent with the victim, was not hurt.

Ten tracking dogs were dispatched to the area to find a scent, Hampton said. As temperatures cooled from the heat of the day, tracking dogs were able to establish a scent trail and discovered a 200-pound, male black bear matching the description of the offending bear within three quarters of a mile of the attack site. The bear was put down shortly before 7 p.m.

“We manage wild bears for a healthy and thriving population,” said Dan Prenzlow, regional manager for wildlife with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “But when an individual bear enters a tent and attacks a sleeping person, we manage that animal to protect the public safety.”

There were a lot of tents and people in the area at the time of the attack.

About 700 to 1,000 people participate in the jamboree, an annual gathering of bow hunting enthusiasts, said Rose Ashurst, vice chairman of public relations for the Colorado Bow Hunters Association. She said she had heard reports of a bear tearing up and ransacking empty tents earlier in the week but no one had been hurt before.

The fact that the bear was brazen enough to go into a crowded campground is concerning, Hampton said.

“We see these kinds of incidents every summer in Colorado. So is it rare? … It’s uncommon. Attacks are pretty rare, we get maybe one or two a year,” Hampton said.

Hampton said campers should store their trash in bear-proof containers (or double-bagged and locked in a car trunk), store food in air-tight containers out of reach, keep a clean camp and keep a clean tent so there are no food odors to lure bears. More information on camping and hiking in bear country can be found on the Division of Wildlife’s website.

The boy is believed to be from the Denver metro area

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