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Trails closed near Red Rock Canyon Open Space due to aggressive bear

Posted at 7:38 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 10:27:13-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs officials say some city trails are temporarily closed while Colorado Parks and Wildlife tracks an aggressive bear after a confrontation Thursday. Closure signs are in place at the trails, and hikers are asked to avoid the area until the search is complete.

The city has closed the Section 16 Trailhead, Palmer Loop Trail, and the southern end of Red Rock Canyon in Red Rock Canyon Open Space after a hiker said the bear confronted him and his two dogs Thursday afternoon near the Section 16 Trailhead.

No serious injuries were reported from the incident. The hiker said he and his dogs were about 100 yards up the trail when it happened.

He said one of his dogs, a Labrador, alerted at something in thick brush near the trail and ran, pulling the leash out of the hiker's hands, to investigate. He said he and his other dog, a puggle, then encountered a cinnamon-colored bear he estimated to weigh about 150 pounds.

The hiker said the bear did not show any fear of him or his dogs, and aggressively pursued the smaller dog that was still on its leash. The hiker said he kicked the bear in the head to stop it from attacking the dog.

The hiker said he fell in the gravel and got minor cuts and scratches on his head and that he again kicked the bear to protect his dog. The hiker said once he was on his feet again he threw rocks at the bear and it turned and walked down the trail. The bear did not bite or claw the hiker or his dogs.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife called in a the Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service team, which helps to manage wildlife conflicts for the protection of public health and safety.

CPW says if the bear is found it will be euthanized because it poses a threat to human health and safety.

CPW also says the incident is a reminder to be Bear Aware, and urges hikers to follow safety tips when hiking in bear country. Some of those tips include never hike alone, keep pets leashed, carry a "rattle can" filled with rocks, or a can of bear spray, to use if confronted by a bear.