Bear Encounters: Why relocation isn’t always an option

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MANITOU SPRINGS — What is normally a quick walk home took a little longer for Sarim Thomas.

“I mean it was probably a second that I just stood there and froze,” Thomas said.

She says a bear digging through trash bins suddenly charged towards her.

“At one point we were running towards each other for maybe a second,” Thomas said.

It happened Thursday night near the intersection of Duclo Avenue and Otoe Place near the Manitou Springs Library.

“The truck was like, parked right here and this is where I ran around the truck. I attempted to try to get on the bed of the truck, flipped my foot, I landed on my feet. So, I went up the stairs in my neighbors up there.. ran up my neighbor’s fence and jumped over it to get away from the bear, and the bear still followed me. And she actually went up these steps and went towards where I was and stood up,” Thomas said.

Thomas says her neighbor then opened the door to let her in and wait it out.

“I probably waited at least 20, 25 minutes before my neighbor walked me home,” Thomas said.

What Thomas didn’t know was that her coworker was physically attacked just minutes before her encounter.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Thomas’ coworker was knocked down and clawed, and suffered three scratches down her back.

“When you see a bear you should make noise, stand your ground, appear big and loud. And at the moment, I’m glad that I didn’t do that because I would have probably been gone. I mean, my reaction of just, you see a 200-pound bear coming at you, grunting. I would have been gone if I did that. So, I mean, luckily that I reacted the way I did,” Thomas said.

CPW says that bear has since been humanely euthanized.

“We would never relocate a dangerous bear, period. This bear was dangerous, it had to be put down,” said Bill Vogrin, spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“You know, I’m not an expert so I, I don’t know, I’m just glad that I’m alive,” Thomas said.

The bear’s her cubs are being taken care of at a rehabilitation center in Wetmore, where the fear of humans will be re-instilled.

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