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Bear attacks sleeping boy

Brief by Central Staff

Wildlife – August 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

A Colorado Springs teenager was bit by a black bear in the San Isabel National forest northwest of Walsenburg (toward Gardner) on July 8. Kevin Garcia, 16, was asleep in his campsite at 11,000 feet, when the bear chomped down on his shoulder. Still encased in his sleeping bag, the boy jumped up and fought back with a nearby shovel.

The animal fled, but he returned about ten minutes later. By then, the boy’s father and uncle were wide awake, and they chased the bear away.

But then the bear came back a third time and charged the boy’s father, Manuel Garcia, 37, of Red Wing. As Manuel retreated to the roof of his truck, his brother, Julian Garcia, 27, fired a warning shot. But the bear would not retreat, and Julian shot the bear twice with a .30-caliber rifle.

Wildlife officers don’t know why the black bear attacked, but a Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesmen confirmed that it was appropriate to destroy such an aggressive bear.

This was the first bear attack suffered by a human in Colorado since 1999, but encounters with black bears are common. Wildlife officials recommend taking extra precautions this season because a late-June frost followed by a spell of dry weather has reduced much of the bears’ natural forage.

The Garcia party had gone fishing, and then cooked-out before camping that evening, and it’s thought that the 130-pound boar that bit Kevin may have been attracted by food smells. The Garcias had tried to safeguard themselves by storing their food away from their camp, however, and nothing at the scene accounted for the unusual ferocity of the bear.

Kevin Garcia was treated for six puncture wounds at Penrose Memorial Hospital and released. He says he feels “very lucky,” considering what might have happened.