ShareThis Page
World

Colorado mom scares off bear attacking 5-year-old daughter

| Monday, May 14, 2018, 10:03 p.m.
St. Mary's Medical Center surgeon Charles Breaux talks  Monday, May 14, 2018, in Grand Junction, Colo., about an East Orchard Mesa girl who was in the hospital after a bear attack early Sunday morning. The girl was expected to recover thanks to the quick thinking of her mother who scared away the animal.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
St. Mary's Medical Center surgeon Charles Breaux talks Monday, May 14, 2018, in Grand Junction, Colo., about an East Orchard Mesa girl who was in the hospital after a bear attack early Sunday morning. The girl was expected to recover thanks to the quick thinking of her mother who scared away the animal.
In this photograph provided by the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife, the paw of a bear believed to have mauled a young child is examined after being shot and killed Monday, May 14, 2018, in Grand Junction, Colo. The 5-year-old girl attacked by a black bear outside her home over the past weekend was expected to recover thanks to quick thinking of her mother who scared away the animal.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
In this photograph provided by the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife, the paw of a bear believed to have mauled a young child is examined after being shot and killed Monday, May 14, 2018, in Grand Junction, Colo. The 5-year-old girl attacked by a black bear outside her home over the past weekend was expected to recover thanks to quick thinking of her mother who scared away the animal.

DENVER — A 5-year-old Colorado girl attacked by a black bear outside her home over the weekend was expected to recover thanks to the quick thinking of her mother, who scared the animal away, officials said Monday.

The unidentified girl was in good condition at a hospital. Wildlife officials announced they killed the bear believed to be responsible for the attack early Sunday in East Orchard Mesa, a semi-rural, unincorporated area near the city of Grand Junction, about 240 miles west of Denver.

Bear sightings are fairly common in the high-desert area, though it's not their typical habitat. Because acorns and berries that bears typically rely on are doing well in the mountains where they usually live, officials suspect the animal hibernated locally and became accustomed to easily finding food near homes, from trash, livestock feed or grills.

The attack led officials to renew their call for residents to secure food sources and use bear-proof trash cans.

The girl's mother told state wildlife officers that her daughter went outside around 2:30 a.m. after hearing noises she thought might be coming from her dog. The mother said she heard screaming and found her daughter being dragged by a large black bear. She told authorities that the bear dropped the girl after she yelled at it.

"Before the sun rose on the morning of Mother's Day, she truly exemplified the love and courage of what it takes to be a mother and, because of those actions, her child is here today," said J.T. Romatzke, regional manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Pediatric surgeon Charles Breaux Jr. told reporters Sunday that the bear apparently bit the girl on her back side but she didn't have any injuries to her brain or organs or suffer any fractures. He said she received 77 external stitches and more internally.

Doctors expect the girl to "mend very well," though doctors will monitor her to make sure she does not develop any infections or rabies, hospital spokeswoman Teri Cavanagh said Monday.

In 911 recordings released Monday, the girl's father calmly says "she's just missing a chunk out of her back, a couple spots in her leg."

The 125-pound, approximately 2-year-old male bear suspected in the attack was shot by wildlife officers Sunday night as it was walking up to a home about a half-mile away from where the girl was attacked. Three traps were set to catch the bear, but officers killed it before the animal entered one.

Colorado has an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 bears, a population that's considered robust in a state of 5.7 million people that also attracts many tourists. Every year, there are cases of hungry bears getting into cars and sometimes buildings to find food, especially during periods of drought.

Wildlife officials stress black bears are not out to hunt people but that conflicts, including attacks, can happen once bears get access to easy, calorie-rich human food and return for more.

Another bear was spotted about a half-mile from the girl's home a week ago, Romatzke said. The area is nestled between the Gunnison and Colorado rivers, which provide corridors for migrating wildlife.

Wildlife officers are confident the bear they killed is the same one that attacked the girl based on its appearance and behavior, but authorities won't know for sure until its body is analyzed. Results are expected within about a week.

The traps will remain in place in the meantime and state and federal wildlife officers, with the help of dogs, will keep searching the area for signs of additional bears.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me