Red Rock Canyon Open Space reopens; 'aggressive' bear never found

Red Rock Canyon Open Space was closed to the public because of an aggressive bear. Photo from CPW on 8/8/19.
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Officials reopened all trails at Red Rock Canyon Open Space Monday afternoon following a four-day search for a reported aggressive bear seen on the south side of the park.

Searchers came up empty-handed, and urge the public to remain vigilant while visiting the open space.

The trails were closed Aug. 8 after a man reported a close call while walking his two dogs. The hiker says he and his two dogs were just 100 yards up on the trail when the bear approached them.

"He said one dog, a labrador, alerted at something in the thick scrub oak brush that surrounds the trail and it bolted, pulling its leash out of the hiker's grasp, to go investigate. Soon, the hiker said he and his other dog, a puggle mix breed, were confronted by a cinnamon-colored bear he estimated at 150 pounds," Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.

"He said the bear showed no fear of him or the dogs. In fact, he said the bear aggressively pursued the smaller dog, which was still on its leash. The hiker said he kicked the bear in the head to stop it from attacking his pet. In the chaos, the hiker fell in gravel and suffered minor scratches on his legs. Again, he said, he kicked the bear in the head to prevent it from attacking his dog. The hiker said he was able to regain his footing and throw rocks at the bear, which turned and walked down the trail and disappeared. The bear never bit or clawed the hiker or his dogs."

The hiker was treated at the scene for minor scrapes on his legs.

Hounds were sent in the first evening to search for the bear. The following day, wildlife officials set out cameras and foot snares for bears.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife say they shut down the trails because they were worried about the aggressive behavior the bear was showing toward the hiker.

"We are not concerned if there are bears in this area; we are concerned about this individual bear and its individual behavior, so if we are not unable to capture within a few days, we will continue to try to educate the public leave signs out warning them the bear activities in this area," said CPW manager Frank McGee.

If the bear is ever found, it will have to be euthanized.

"Making a decision to have to put an animal down like this is not one that we take lightly, but we also have an obligation to protect the public, and in this case, this animal behavior is concerning to us and potentially dangerous to the public," McGee said.

Closed trails included Section 16 and Palmer Loop.

Click here for more tips on being bear aware.