Colorado Parks and Wildlife responded Thursday afternoon to a report of an aggressive bear after a hiker said it confronted him on a popular trail on the west side of Colorado Springs in the Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

The hiker said he and his two dogs were just 100 yards up the trail at the start of his midday hike when the confrontation occurred.

He said one dog, a Labrador, alerted at something in the thick scrub oak brush that surrounds the trail and it bolted, pulling its leash out of the hiker’s grasp, to go investigate. Soon, the hiker said he and his other dog, a Puggle mix breed, were confronted by a cinnamon-colored bear he estimated at 150 pounds.

He said the bear showed no fear of him or the dogs. In fact, he said the bear aggressively pursued the smaller dog, which was still on its leash. The hiker said he kicked the bear in the head to stop it from attacking his pet.

In the chaos, the hiker fell in gravel and suffered minor scratches on his legs. Again, he said, he kicked the bear in the head to prevent it from attacking his dog. The hiker said he was able to regain his footing and throw rocks at the bear, which turned and walked down the trail and disappeared. The bear never bit or clawed the hiker or his dogs.

The hiker was treated at the scene for minor scrapes on his legs by CPW officers, gave an account of the incident and left the scene. The City of Colorado Springs closed all nearby trails at the suggestion of CPW officers.

CPW also called in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service team, which helps CPW manage conflicts caused by wildlife for the protection of public health and safety. They intend to track the bear. If it is found, the bear will be euthanized because it poses an imminent threat to human health and safety. The public is asked to avoid the area until the search ends.

The incident is an important reminder of the need to observe Bear Aware rules, especially when hiking in bear country. It’s best not to hike alone. Keep pets leashed. Carry a “rattle can” filled with rocks, or carry a can of bear spray to use if confronted by a bear.

More information about bears can be found at in the “Living With Wildlife” section.

GMUG warns of bear activity in campgrounds

Special to the Montrose Daily Press

The Grand Valley District of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are aware of the increased black bear activity in and around the Cobbett and Ward campgrounds.

• Due to improper human food storage and disposal practices, the bear has become food-conditioned, approaching campers and campsites in the area.

• Over time, food-conditioned bears may become bold or aggressive in their attempts to obtain human food – posing a danger to individuals, their property and their pets. This can ultimately lead to the bear being euthanized. Bears have good memories and will return to places they’ve found food.

All recreationalists are asked to use the following food storage and disposal practices:

• Only have the food out that you are actually using; if you’re not using it, put it back into storage, do not leave food or other attractants (i.e. toothpaste, soap, lotion etc.) unattended, even for a few minutes. Keep a clean camp, whether you’re in a campground or in the back-country.

• Allow grills to burn for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors. Clean the grill after each use.

• Always keep your food within arm’s reach and don’t turn your back to your food.

• When away from camp, store food and other attractants in an approved bear canister or hang them in a tree at least 10 feet high and 4 feet from the trunk, never in your tent.

• When car-camping, secure all food and coolers in a locked vehicle after you’ve eaten.

• Keep a clean camp and practice “Pack-It-In, Pack-It-Out.” Do not use fire rings to dispose of food, cooking grease or food scraps.

If approached by a food-conditioned black bear remember the following:

• If the bear behaves aggressively, try to intimidate it by raising arms or a large object over the head and shouting loudly.

• If charged, throw rocks, branches, or other objects at the bear. Be threatening. Do not run.

• If attacked, fight back! Shout loudly and try to remain standing. Protect head and neck if possible.

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