Camper shoots bear cub near Winter Park
An adolescent bear cub was shot Saturday evening, Sept. 5, in the Vasquez Creek area in Arapaho National Forest near the Town of Winter Park.
The incident occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Jeromy Huntington. The incident involved a family of campers from the Denver area who were camping up Vasquez Road, approximately 2.7 miles from the Forest Service boundary. The group included two small children.
The young bear cub approached their camp late in the evening and attempted to gain access to a closed plastic tub containing food; the tub was sitting outside on the ground near the campers’ tent.
According Huntington the campers were sitting around the campfire when they heard a noise they discovered to be the bear. They attempted to scare the creature away by yelling at it. One of the adult campers was carrying a firearm and fired into the ground nearby the bear in a further attempt to scare the creature away. At some point in time during this exchange the bear stood up on its hind legs, at which time the adult with the firearm considered the bear to be a threat and fired one shot directly at the bear. The bullet struck the bear, which ran a short distance from the camp and died.
Huntington estimated the distance between the bear and the campers at the time the shot was fired at about 15 to 20 feet. He said the campers immediately contacted emergency services and only after law enforcement arrived on scene was the bear discovered to be a cub.
Wildlife officers have been dealing with increased bear activity lately in the Vasquez Creek region. Huntington said he was in the Vasquez Creek region Saturday morning after receiving calls about a bear squashing tents in the area. Huntington highlighted the extreme importance of cleaning up all trash at campsites and making sure campers leave no food in their tents.
“A lot of camps in that area are not cleaned well; lots of food and trash,” Huntington said. “If a bear is finding food in a tent then they may key in on that item as a specific place to look for food. Remember, nothing in your tent but your sleeping bag.”
Huntington pointed out Colorado Parks & Wildlife offers a number of informative brochures on living and camping in bear country. They can be found online by going to http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeBears1.aspx.
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