Colorado camp counselor wakes up with head in bear’s mouth

WARD — A teen staffer at a Colorado camp fought off a bear after waking up Sunday to find the animal biting his head and trying to drag him away. The bear believed to be responsible was trapped and killed early Monday.

The 19-year-old woke up at around 4 a.m. to a “crunching sound” with his head inside the mouth of the bear, which was trying to pull him out of his sleeping bag as he slept outside at Glacier View Ranch 48 miles (77 kilometers) northwest of Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said. The teen punched and hit it and other staffers who were sleeping nearby yelled and swatted at the bear, which eventually left, she said.

The staffer, identified only as Dylan, was treated briefly at a hospital and released.

The bear was trapped at around 4:30 a.m. Monday at Glacier View Ranch and later euthanized. The attack happened at about the same time the day before at the camp 48 miles northwest of Denver

Churchill says the teen saw the captured bear and also believed it was the same one. Wildlife officials will use DNA to verify bear’s identity and look at whether it was sick or injured, which might explain its unusual behavior.

The teen told KMGH-TV that the bear dragged him ten to 12 feet before he was able to free himself.

“The crunching noise, I guess, was the teeth scraping against the skull as it dug in,” said the teen, who teaches wilderness survival at the camp owned by the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh Day Adventists.

Dylan and the other staffers were near teepees where 12- and 13-year-old campers were sleeping. None of them were hurt.

Black bears aren’t usually aggressive but have attacked several people in the West in recent weeks.

A woman and her dogs were attacked on Tuesday after they apparently surprised an adult bear and her cub in a huckleberry patch in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Last month, black bears killed two people in Alaska in separate attacks.

Sixteen-year-old Patrick “Jack” Cooper of Anchorage was killed after he got lost and veered off a trail during a mountain race south of Anchorage. Mine contract worker Erin Johnson of Anchorage died and her co-worker was injured in a mauling about 275 miles northeast of Anchorage.

Black bears will defend their young and have been known to paw and bite tents with food inside. After the Colorado attack wildlife officers did not find any food that would have attracted the bear so they set bear traps in the area.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect that the bear was trapped and euthanized.