Bear Attacks Colorado Woman

Colorado Bear Attacks Increase With Hunting Decrease

Rocky Mountain News, Bear Hunting Magazine
05/01/2007
Christine Whitteker Was Not Seriously Injured
The Bears Were In The Yard Of The Whitteker Home
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Story Link: Rocky Mountain News.

Full Text:
A twig snaps, thunder claps, and Christine Whitteker jumps.
You'd jump too if a yearling black bear had just torn some flesh from your abdomen and thigh at the doorstep of your home.

Whitteker, 38, was recovering Monday evening at her Conifer Park Estates mountain home, nursing her wounds and still feeling unsettled about 19 hours after the bear cub made a beeline for her as she stood at her sliding door to protect herself, her 10- year-old daughter, Micheala Gaze, and her Australian shepherd mix, Sadie, which narrowly escaped the bear's razor-sharp claws.

"I didn't know he had cut me," said Whitteker. "It took me a minute or two."

Her daughter was sleeping on the couch when she was awakened by her mother's scream.

"I kind of saw the blood coming through her jammies, and I knew she was hurt," Micheala said of her mom.

The bear was killed later Monday morning when it charged a wildlife officer near Whitteker's home off Fallen Rock Road just east of Colorado 73.

"I feel worse about the bear being put down than me being scratched," Whitteker said. "But instead of the (Division of Wildlife) officer it could have have been my daughter it could have attacked. The (elementary) school's not too far from here. It could have been any one of our kids."

The bear encounter occurred about 12:20 a.m. when Whitteker let her dog, Sadie, outside. Whitteker had a leash on her Australian shepherd when she suddenly heard her dog bark uncontrollably.

"If a dog starts barking around here in the dark, you bring it in," Whitteker said.

Whitteker, her right arm in a sling because of a recent shoulder operation, yanked on the leash with her left hand to get her dog back inside the house. However, with the dog safely secured behind her, she saw the yearling taking a direct line at her.

"It seemed it was at a full run, and it was fast," she recalled.

She said that before she could slide the glass door shut, the bear had managed to claw her. After she screamed, her daughter, Micheala, awoke, grabbed a phone and passed it to her mother so she could call for help, and then raced to get a towel so her mother could apply pressure to her wounds. Jefferson County sheriff's deputies responded within minutes, and they were joined by wildlife officers. Whitteker was taken to a hospital.

A wildlife officer trailed the bear and at least two other bears into some nearby woods.

The wildlife officer then "was greeted by three sets of eyes looking at him," Jennifer Churchill, a DOW spokeswoman, said. "One of the bears charged him, at which point he discharged his firearm . . . and killed it."

The dead bear was taken to Colorado State University in Fort Collins for a necropsy.

Churchill said she had no information on the bear's age, gender or physical condition. A baited bear trap was sent to the area of the attack in an attempt to catch the remaining two bears, she said.There have been no recent reports of bear problems in the area, but Churchill urged residents living near bear or mountain lion habitat to take precautions.

Whitteker found out later that the bear had knocked over a trash can outside her home and she thought the cub and the other bears may have been trying to rummage for food.



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