Colorado Woman Mauled by Bear as She Fixed Hot Tub in Backyard

A woman in New Castle, Colorado was taken to hospital after she was attacked by a bear on August 31, after which the bear and its cub were killed.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the woman went outside at 2am to investigate why her hot tub lid was removed, and was subsequently attacked by a bear that came out of the trees nearby.

"The bear, later determined to be the sow, swiped at the woman, hitting and severely lacerating her arm," said CPW in a news release. "The victim was able to get away from the bear and inside her home where she called 911.″

Afterwards, CPW told the local police to track down and kill the bear. New Castle PD located a mother bear and three cubs near to the home, but according to CPW, they couldn't be sure if the sow or the cubs had mauled the woman.

black bear
Stock image of a bear and her cubs in a tree. The bear who attacked a woman in Colorado has been killed by local police, along with one of her three cubs. iStock / Getty Images Plus

"The decision was made to euthanize the bears," CPW said. "One cub [and the mother] was euthanized. Given the location of the two other cubs in the tree, along with the close proximity of a busy road and several homes, CPW made the decision to wait on euthanizing the other two cubs."

The bear involved in the attack was likely a black bear, as grizzlies have not been seen in Colorado for half a century. According to CPW estimates, there are roughly 17,000–20,000 black bears living in the state. While initially bound to their native woodlands, with the expansion of human settlements, more of the bears have ventured into towns and campgrounds in search of an easy meal.

Bears that are drawn to the smell of human food and garbage are much more likely to attack, especially if surprised, threatened, or protecting cubs. Fatal attacks are rare, however, and Colorado's last fatal attack was in 2009.

While bears entering human areas is dangerous for people, it's also dangerous for the bears themselves: bears that lose their instinctive fear of humans are thought to have shorter lifespans than bears who avoid towns, primarily due to the dangers of cars hitting them, poaching, and euthanasia in the aftermath of an attack.

According to CPW, the mother and her three cubs had previously been sighted in the nearby area but had shown no signs of aggression towards humans.

"During the ensuing investigation CPW determined the sow was the only bear involved in the attack. Since the two remaining cubs were not directly involved in the attack, CPW made the decision to send the two cubs to a rehabilitation facility," CPW said.

"The cubs were tranquilized and safely removed from the tree and transported to a CPW rehabilitation facility to be evaluated. The deceased sow and cub's remains are being sent to CPW's Wildlife Health Lab for necropsy."

To prevent attacks like this, and the subsequent death of the defensive bear, CPW advises residents to ensure their trash and bird feeders are bear-proof, clean up fallen fruit near the house, not to leave food or even air fresheners in their cars, and to lock all property doors.