911 tapes: 5-year-old was camping alone in backyard before bear attack

Stock photo, black bear

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKTV) - A little girl who was seriously injured in a bear attack was camping alone outside, according to 911 tapes obtained by 11 News sister station KCNC.

The child was in her backyard at 2:30 a.m. Sunday when she snatched up and pulled around by a bear. Her mother told Colorado Parks and Wildlife that she heard screaming in her backyard and ran out to find the bear dragging her 5-year-old daughter around the yard.

At the time, the mother told wildlife officers that her daughter had thought she'd heard the family dog and had gone into the backyard to check on her.

But according to the dispatch tapes, the father told 911 she was camping alone when the bear grabbed his daughter by the rear. The bear dropped her after the mother started screaming at it.

The 5-year-old was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center. She has been listed in fair condition. Doctors told sister station KKCO that she was in good spirits despite receiving more than six dozen stitches. Recovery is expected to take several weeks.

The incident happened in east Orchard Mesa, which is just south of Grand Junction on the other side of the Colorado River. Wildlife officers combed the area for the bear and placed three traps in the area overnight, which were then monitored. CPW says early Monday morning, officers saw the bear walking up to a house a half-mile from the child's home. It was killed before it could walk into the trap.

CPW said Wednesday a DNA test confirmed the bear was the same one who attacked the little girl.

Wildlife officials remind the public to keep homes from being an easy food source for bears, which is the easiest way for the animal to lose its fear of people. Secure trash cans, keep pet food inside, and put away those less obvious temptations such as bird feeders and barbeque grills. Experts say that once a bear discovers a way to get food on a person's property, they will remember and keep coming back. Sunday's incident is a sobering reminder that no matter how much some Colorado residents enjoy seeing bears roam their neighborhoods, they are still wild animals, and encounters can be dangerous for both humans and the bears.