An "aggressive" bear remains on the loose after several people reported having a frightening encounter with it at a popular Springs park.
Wildlife officials have been searching Bear Creek Regional Park for the last two days trying to locate the bear after receiving several similar reports that the bear was approaching people and refusing to back away from them.
The bear reportedly got within 10 feet of one runner, who screamed for help. When two other runners came to her rescue, the bear still refused to retreat.
"He kept approaching us, so we had to keep turning around and yelling at him...being big and grabbing sticks," Pattye Volz recalled.
None of the typical defensive methods--trying to look big, throwing things, backing away slowly--worked. The bear kept coming towards them.
The group was eventually able to make it to the road safely, where the bear did not follow them.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton says the issue at hand is not that people are having encounters with the bear--that, he says, is to be expected in bear country--but that the bear is exhibiting behavior that could pose a threat to humans. Hampton stressed that typically people and bears can co-exist without any problems.
"Bears are usually shy...they will usually back away if people stand their ground.
"If this bear was backing off after people stood their ground, yelled or threw things, we wouldn't be out there," Hampton said.
Parks and Wildlife officers closed the trails west of 21st Street Monday in the park while they searched for the bear. The trails have been reopened, but officials say to exercise caution if you use them.
Wildlife officials say relocation is always their goal, and once the bear is found, experts will study it to determine if that's possible. Hampton said if the bear is found to be exhibiting behavior that could make it dangerous, then it may have to be put down.
11 News is remaining in contact with Parks and Wildlife, and will keep you updated on the progress of their search.
Bear Creek Regional Park is located on the west side of town near, spanning east to west from 8th Street to High Drive. Much of it is near a residential area, and on its western end runs close to Red Rock Canyon Open Space and the trail network off High Drive. A popular dog park is also located west of 21st Street.