Bear suspected in Aspen attack killed by state wildlife officers

An adult male bear weighing more than 400 pounds was shot and killed Wednesday night by state wildlife officers. The bear is suspected of earlier attacking an Aspen woman inside her home.

This is the fourth troublesome bear put down this year in the Aspen area by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The DOW said the bear was killed around 10:30 p.m. outside the woman’s home on Aspen’s west end by officers who had been watching the area. They had set traps in hopes the animal would return.

After the bear ignored the traps, officers outside the home decided to kill it, “based on matching description and the fact that the bear exhibited no fear of people,” the DOW said in a news release.

“Can we say with 100 percent certainty it was the same bear? Probably not,” DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said. “But it’s highly unlikely multiple adult male bears would be operating in the same area like that.”

Hampton also said distinctive color features were observed on the bear, which were similar to the animal that injured a woman Monday night at 635 Sneaky Lane in Aspen.

The woman, Maureen Hirsch, told
authorities she was walking inside her home at 10:10 p.m. near the entryway when she was confronted by the bear.

She screamed and turned to open the door to let it out when the animal struck her. Hirsch ran upstairs and called 911 as the bear continued feeding in her kitchen, before leaving on its own.

Hirsch was treated for minor scratches on her back and chest at Aspen Valley Hospital.
In a statement released Thursday through the DOW, Hirsch said she had “tremendous sadness” about the bear’s death, but said it was necessary for community safety.

“No one wishes harm to these magnificent animals,” she said.

The shooting came as Aspen-area law enforcement hopped around town on 18 calls for service related to bears on Wednesday alone.

Two bears had managed to get inside homes. One person told 911 dispatchers he or she was trapped inside a vehicle because of a nearby bear, according to Aspen police spokeswoman Stephanie Dasaro.

Another report around 3 p.m. had a bear galloping across a runway at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.

“It was just causing a hazard,” Dasaro said.

In 2007, the DOW put down some 13 problem bears in the Aspen area.

Hampton said bears’ regular food sources, berries, are drying up while acorns haven’t fully developed.

“It’s bear season for us,” Hampton said.

Near Ouray, meanwhile, the subdivision north of town where 74-year-old Donna Munson was killed by a bear earlier this month has reported no activity since the incident, DOW spokesman Tyler Baskfield said.

Baskfield said officers are no longer attempting to trap bears in the area. Two adult male bears were shot and killed after Munson was found mauled outside her home Aug. 7.


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