Bear cub meets its final moments in Dillon Reservoir |

Bear cub meets its final moments in Dillon Reservoir

Paige Blankenbuehler
summit daily news

Sometime around 3:30 p.m. Monday a bear cub reportedly drowned in Dillon Reservoir. Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers were misinformed on the age of the bear which affected their response to the situation.

“If we would have known that the report of a bear in Dillon Reservoir was a cub, we would have responded differently,” said Mike Porras, parks and wildlife spokesman. “This is a very unfortunate result of miscommunication.”

Wildlife manager Sean Shepherd, who was on duty at the time of the incident, responded to a call from the Dillon Police Department, which was among spectators, the first responders to the scene.

Shepherd was reportedly “out of the area with bad cellphone service and misunderstood the situation,” according to Porras. “He was under the impression that the report of a bear in Dillon Reservoir was an adult.”

Dillon police officer Sean Gregory was the responding officer to the scene. According to Dillon police chief Steve Neumeyer, Gregory called parks and wildlife and spoke with Shepherd who advised him that if the bear was left alone, it would come ashore on its own.

Between 4-4:30, the bear cub had reportedly drowned and a wildlife manager from parks and wildlife “used a boat to pull the dead bear out of the water,” Neumeyer said.

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According to Porras, Shepherd’s response to an adult bear in the reservoir was appropriate.

“Bears are very good swimmers – We have seen them often trek long distances across the water, so an adult bear in the water is not a major cause for concern,” Porras said. “The most responsible way to react is to leave a bear alone and it will swim – if we would have known that it was a bear cub, we would have responded differently. When referring to a bear, it is unclear unless someone describes it explicitly as a cub.”

Wildlife manager Shepherd responded to the scene to haul the carcass of the bear cub from Dillon Reservoir.

“He was shocked and concerned when he found out that the bear was a cub,” Porras said. “He responded to the best of his ability and we would have much preferred the bear could have been saved.”

Though the response from Colorado Parks and Wildlife dealt with the removal of the dead bear cub, it is uncertain whether even a quick response time could have saved the animal.

“Shepherd was over an hour away from the location and conditions on Dillon Reservoir were very windy, so the water was choppy,” Porras. “It is likely that the bear would have had to been tranquilized in order to be recovered and that would be a difficult situation with the conditions reported on the reservoir.”

According to Porras, no reports of bear cub or mother bear sightings were reported in the days leading up to the incident.

“We have reason to believe that this bear could have been abandoned by its mother,” Porras said. “Sometimes nature, unfortunately has a way of dealing with situations like this.”