Winter Park employee attacked by bear

McKenna Harford
Sky-Hi News

A Winter Park Pub employee got quite the scare from a bear hiding inside a dumpster last week.

Around midnight Aug. 29, the worker took out some trash and didn’t notice anything strange, as the dumpster lids were closed, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Mike Porras shared.

When the employee opened the dumpster though, a bear inside of it swatted the employee’s head. The employee sustained a scratch on the top of his head, but was wearing a hat that likely helped protect him from more serious injuries, Porras said.

“Fortunately, the individual was not more injured because there was a significant potential,” Porras said.

CPW was informed of the incident on Aug. 30 and sent officers to location to scout for the bear. Porras said the bear had been seen numerous times in that area, but no one had ever called CPW to report it.

“It’s very typical for bears that have found an easy source of food in dumpsters and trash within the community, they’re going to come back,” Porras said. “By not calling CPW, it’s an irresponsible decision that puts people at risk.”

Ultimately, officers put the bear down because it attacked a human, but also because it was “one of the most aggressive, if not the most aggressive, bears (officers) have ever seen in that area.”

Porras estimates the black bear weighed around 400 pounds, a sign that he frequented that dumpster or others for food.

Though many people avoid calling CPW when they see a bear by a dumpster or residential area because of the misconception that the “bear is just being a bear,” allowing bear-human interactions is irresponsible, Porras said.

So far this year, CPW has received over 3,800 bear incident reports since April 1, most of them involving bears trying to find food.

“If people call us right away, there’s a good chance we can get that bear out of town and keep it away from people and there’s a good chance that bear will not return,” he said. “But if people tolerate a bear in a dumpster in trash in town is not a good situation or an acceptable situation.”

CPW is preparing for bear incidents to pick up as they begin to prepare for hibernation, spending up to 20 hours a day trying to eat 20,000 calories or more. Porras encouraged people to educate themselves on the Bear Aware responsibilities listed on CPW’s website to help prevent bear-human interactions.

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