Bear injures off-duty sheriff's deputy in Aspen

Wildlife officers searching for bear

ASPEN, Colo. - Aspen Police said a woman was injured by a bear at about 2 a.m. Sunday.

A half-hour earlier, the APD received a call that people were crowding around a large bear in an unsecured dumpster located in the same alley. An Aspen police officer responded and scared the bear away using his lights and sirens. He lost sight of the bear after it fled through the courtyard by St. Mary's Church.

The woman who was injured encountered what is believed to be the same bear. She was walking down the alley between Galena and Mill when the bear swiped at her. The bear made contact with the woman causing injuries to her abdomen and leg. She was treated and released.

She was identified by the Aspen Daily News ( ) as off-duty Pitkin County sheriff's deputy Erin Smiddy.

Aspen Police contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to alert them of the situation. Wildlife officers are currently attempting to locate the bear. The "three strikes" rule does not apply to bears that attack humans and if found and identified the bear could be euthanized.

In an effort to protect both people and bears, the Aspen Police would like to remind the public to be especially alert during bear season.

If walking through town at night walk in well-lit areas and try to avoid locations like alleys that may have bear attractants (dumpsters, grease traps from restaurants, etc.).

If you see a bear DO NOT approach it, keep moving and give the bear ample space. Although naturally docile, black bears can react unpredictably under stress from humans.

If you run into a bear unexpectedly back away slowly, make yourself appear larger by raising your hands and/or a jacket over your head and make loud noises. Black bears are known to false charge, so resist the urge to run as this may trigger a chase response from the bear.

Please protect yourself and keep the Aspen bears safe by being bear aware. Additional information about bear encounters can be found online at or by calling the Aspen bear hotline at 970-429-1768.

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