Bear attacks Colorado ranch hand
DENVER – Harold Cerda had just left an outhouse on a southern Colorado ranch when a bear swatted him to the ground and chased him to his car, where he discovered the animal had also eaten his lunch.”He sent me a good 10 or 15 feet,” Cerda told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. “I’m used to hard falls because I used to ride bulls a lot. It’s pretty much the hardest I’ve been hit.”He guessed the cinnamon-colored black bear was anywhere from 150 to 500 pounds and nearly 6 1/2 feet tall when standing.Cerda, 29, was treated and released at a Pueblo hospital for bruises and possible nerve damage to his neck and shoulder. He said he can’t move his right arm.Cerda, a ranch hand on the Harteis International ranch about 175 miles south of Denver near the New Mexico line, was attacked Wednesday afternoon. Division of Wildlife spokesman Michael Seraphin said wildlife officers believe the bear happened along, noticed the lunch in the car and crawled through an open window to help itself.Seraphin said the bear was apparently walking toward the outhouse as Cerda emerged.”I think what happened was I surprised him, so he hit me,” Cerda said. He said the blow knocked him 10 to 15 feet.After a few seconds, he spotted the bear a short distance away and started walking to his car. So did the bear.”He started picking up his pace, and so did I,” Cerda said.Once inside, he started the engine to get the electric windows up and noticed the remnants of his lunch. As the bear sniffed around the windows and chewed on the tires, Cerda snapped photos with his cell phone for a few minutes and drove away.Wildlife officials found bear prints on top of the car. Cerda, who is married with a son, said he was never really scared.”I grew up in the mountains,” he said. “I know not to panic.”District Wildlife Manager Bob Holder said a trap had been set for the bear in the latest attack, which will also be destroyed if captured because it had attacked a human.Cerda said he hopes that doesn’t happen because he doesn’t think the bear would have attacked at all if it hadn’t been startled.”If he wanted to attack, he would have killed me right there,” he said.Wildlife officials say several factors, including hard freezes or droughts that kill off berries and acorns, and bears foraging for food after they emerge from hibernation lead to rare attacks.”If bears were going to go around eating people we would be reporting it everyday,” he said.There have been 23 documented bear attacks on humans in Colorado since 1998, according to data from the Division of Wildlife. Before Cerda, the last one happened in September when a large black bear injured an 85-year-old woman, who had been regularly feeding the bear sunflower seeds.List of documented bear attacksA list of documented bear attacks on humans in Colorado since 1998 compiled by the Colorado Division of Wildlife:-May 17, 1998: Male hiker attacked near Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Puncture wounds on his hip and scratches on his arm.September 18, 1998: A 53-year-old male hunter attacked in Lake County. Bite on the foot.-August 4, 1999: A 56-year-old hiker was attacked after surprising a sow and her cubs in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Puncture wounds and scratch marks to his foot, ankle and leg.-September, 13, 2000: A bear on Grand Mesa bit one hunter on the buttocks and another on the hand and leg. A third hunter shot the bear in the abdomen, killing him.-July 8, 2001: A 16-year-old was attacked as he was sleeping at a campsite west of Gardner, where the bear was accustomed to finding food. Scrapes and several puncture wounds.-July 24, 2001: A scout leader was attacked in her tent as she slept by a black bear in Chaffee County; bites and scratches.-August 2, 2001: A 17-year-old boy scout was injured in the back after a black bear entered his tent in at the Packerd High Adventure Scout Camp near Poncha Springs.-August 21, 2001: A 21-year-old attacked in his sleeping bag at the Lake Creek Campground. Bite on hand and injuries in the head, back and upper-right arm from the bear standing on him.-August 27, 2001: A 41-year-old woman was injured in the head by a black bear who swiped through the tent looking for food.-September 9, 2001: A 28-year-old hearing impaired man was hit by a bear from behind after coming in between a sow and her cub. Minor scratches and a strained knee.-September 20, 2001: A 48-year-old woman was attacked by a bear who jumped up and down on her a couple of times in Durango. Bruises.-October 5, 2001: A 20-year-old man was attacked while sleeping outside at a campground near Great Sand Dunes National Monument. Bite on right foot.-June 29, 2002: An 11-year-old boy attacked by a bear who ripped open the tent, stuck his head inside and bit the boy on the right leg.-August 20, 2002: A student camping in Mount Evans Wilderness Area with a group from his school was jumped on by a bear rampaging through the campground.-August 22, 2002: A bear came down on top of a tent and inadvertently put a one-inch scratch on the male who was sleeping in the tent in Teller County.-July 5, 2004: A federal wildlife agent attacked by a bear he was tracking in Gunnison County. The bear pulled the agent down by the leg and bit him a couple of times on all four limbs.-July 28, 2004: A 19-year-old woman was rolled around by a bear who had entered her tent in Larimer County. Bruises.-August 8, 2004: A woman was swiped by a bear on her porch in Larimer County. (She did not require medical attention and DOW officers described the incident as a non-aggressive encounter)-August 19, 2004: A female bear rummaging through a Garfield County cabin bit someone in the left foot after being startled.-August 31, 2004: A sheep herder was bit on the leg and arm by a bear after trying to keep the bear from attacking his dog in Montrose County.-September 11, 2004: An elk hunter was swatted from behind by a bear as he was sitting on a stump. (The hunter did not require medical attention and the bear was not treated as aggressive)-July 13, 2003: Two campers were injured by a black bear at Rocky Mountain National Park. One man suffered a bite to his forehead and another required 30 staples in his skull.-July 19, 2005: A 14-year-old boy was attacked near Coaldale as he was sleeping in a tent. The boy was bitten on the left hand.-July 31, 2005: A 40-year-old man was mauled by a black bear north of Cripple Creek as he was sleeping in a motorhome. He suffered lacerations on the head and back.-September 19, 2005: An 85-year-old woman was attacked in her yard in El Paso County by a bear she had been feeding.-April 26, 2006: A 29-year-old man was attacked by a bear after leaving an outhouse. He suffered bruises and possible nerve damage to his neck and shoulder.
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