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Bear bites hunter after being shot near Pagosa Springs

Man suffered injuries to arm, leg
A bear injured a man in self-defense after the animal was shot by a hunter, wildlife officials said.

A Pagosa Springs man was injured by a black bear last week after a hunting trip went awry, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Matt Thorpe, wildlife manager for CPW, told The Durango Herald a man and a woman were hunting early Sept. 4, north of Pagosa Springs.

The Pagosa Springs Sun first reported the incident.

The woman, who owned the hunting license, took a shot at a bear with a rifle, hitting the animal but not killing it.

“It wasn’t a great shot,” Thorpe said. “So they gave it some time, which is customary.”

Thorpe said the couple waited more than an hour, hoping the bear would die from its injuries. The man then started following the bear’s blood trail over an area with a lot of downed trees.

“The man stepped over a log, and the bear was laying there, still alive, and lunged and latched onto his hand,” Thorpe said. “As he was trying to get away from the bear, it then bit his leg.”

The woman caught up with the man, then shot and killed the bear. The couple then left the scene, made it to their vehicle and drove to the hospital in Pagosa Springs.

CPW was notified about an hour after the incident, Thorpe said. Wildlife officials went to the scene, found the dead bear, and determined the couple’s story was legitimate.

CPW sent samples from the bear to a lab to be tested for diseases. Thorpe said those tests came back negative. Because it was a legal harvest, the woman was able to keep the bear, he said.

Thorpe said given the unfortunate circumstances of the woman’s first shot, the couple did everything to protocol, seeking medical attention then immediately notifying authorities.

“All hunters want a clean, one-shot kill, but sometimes they don’t hit as well as they want,” he said. “It was an ethical, legal hunting situation that didn’t go the way they planned. But everything they did subsequently was everything we would have asked for.”

The man suffered injuries to his hand and leg, but he was treated and released that day, Thorpe said. The woman did not suffer injuries.

The bear was a male, about 3 years old, and 125 pounds. The average bear harvested is about 200 to 250 pounds, Thorpe said.

“It wasn’t a huge bear by any means, but it was legal,” he said.

Thorpe said it’s not accurate to call the incident a bear attack because the animal was defending itself after it was shot.

In June, two bears were euthanized after a man was attacked at a campground south of Pagosa Springs. CPW tracked two potential culprit bears, and shot both out of an abundance of caution.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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