Popped Beach Ball Sparks Chain of Events Leading to Bear Hunt

Officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced they were searching for a bear that scratched a woman's head as she was comforting her crying toddler in a tent at Monument Lake Resort.

According to a release issued by the agency, the bear stepped on a beach ball outside of the tent and popped it in the early hours of Friday morning, which woke up the woman's child who began crying. As the woman tried to calm her child, the bear swatted at the movement from the tent and tore through the fabric, scraping the woman's head.

District Wildlife Manager Bob Holder recommended that campers sleep away from the walls of the tent to avoid any tent movements.

Black Bear
Officials in Colorado are searching for a bear that reportedly scratched a woman's head while she was inside her tent comforting her child. Here, a stock image of a black bear. Greg Norgaard/iStock

The department also recommends that those who camp in bear country to ensure that bears are not attracted to campsites.

These tips include using bear-proof containers for garbage, keeping a clean camp and tent, and storing any food, beverages, and toiletries in airtight containers.

"When you are backpacking or camping in an undeveloped area, set up a bear-safe camp to protect your food and avoid attracting bears," the agency stated. "If there are signs a bear has visited the area recently, leave and choose another campsite."

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the woman may have brushed the side of the tent, which the bear reacted to. After scratching the woman on her head, the bear left the area.

"The woman was not seriously injured and did not seek medical attention," the release stated.

The woman told officials she heard the bear sniffing around the campground that the family was staying in before she was scraped.

"Upon inspecting the scene, Holder discovered four tears in the tent fabric as well as mud and dirt at the base of the tent fabric," the release stated.

Because the bear made contact with a human, the encounter was classified as an attack.

"This is an unfortunate incident because the bear was not aggressively pursuing the victim," said Mike Brown, the department's regional area wildlife manager. "The local District Wildlife Manager has set a trap in the campground in hopes of catching this bear."

He said if the bear intended the harm the woman, "the outcome would have been much worse."

Agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also provided a team of dogs to search for the bear.

Although officials initially planned to euthanize the bear as part of the agency's policy, it announced Monday that they were suspending the search.

The team of dogs was called off and the trap was removed, according to a press release. Brown said this was an "unfortunate" occurrence, but is confident there is not an aggressive bear in the area.

"The pursuit by the dogs and team had the effect of potentially locating the bear involved in addition to hazing other bears within the area," he said.

The process of hazing ensures that bears have a negative association with humans and, in this case, the campground.

Bill Vogrin, the southeast region public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, told Newsweek that the resort has also worked to find solutions to keep bears away.

"Given how this started, it's the best end we could ask for," Vogrin said.

There have been other reports of encounters between bears and humans.

A video showed a man fending off a black bear to protect his dogs on his porch.

One woman was knocked to the ground by a bear while she was taking out her garbage in California.

Another woman was attacked by a bear when she was taking her dogs for a walk in Florida. The bear was later euthanized after it was found in a nearby tree.

Updated 06/28/2022, 3:12 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Mike Brown, Bill Vogrin and additional information.