A 13-year-old boy was bitten by a bear while he slept at a campground in Utah, according to wildlife officials.
The teen was spending the night at Dewey Bridge Campground along the Colorado River when the bear attacked him at around 5:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) said.
He suffered injuries to his right cheek and ear, and was subsequently taken to a hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, for treatment. Fortunately, his wounds were relatively minor and he was released later that day. He is expected to make a full recovery.
An expert from the UDWR said the attack was likely a “chance encounter” and that the campers hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary to attract the bear.
“These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night,” Darren DeBloois from the UDWR told KSTU.
The UDWR said in a statement that they are now trying to capture the bear using dogs and traps, in collaboration with Wildlife Services—a U.S. Department of Agriculture agency.
So far, officials have managed to find the bear’s tracks in sand along the Colorado River, providing the first clue as to its whereabouts. If and when the animal is located, it will be euthanized because it has attacked a human, according to the UDWR.
The campground in question has been closed until further notice, and warning signs have been put up in the area.
Unprovoked bear attacks are extremely rare, in large part because the animals usually like to avoid contact with humans. However, the National Park Service (NPS) makes a number of recommendations for those camping in bear country in order to reduce the chances of an encounter.
Firstly, it is important to keep a clean camp and properly store all food, garbage or smelly items when not in use so as not to attract the animals, according to the NPS.
Furthermore, the agency says:
- “Never camp in an area that has obvious evidence of bear activity such as digging, tracks, or scat.”
- “Do not leave backpacks or bags containing food unattended, even for a few minutes.”
- “If you see a bear approaching your camp, make sure your food is secure and make noise to discourage it from entering your camp.”
- “Sleep at least 100 yards (91 meters), preferably upwind, from the “core camp” area where you cook, eat, and hang your food.”
- “Keep your sleeping gear clean and free of food odors. Don’t cook in your tent, and don’t sleep in clothes worn while cooking and eating.”
- “If a bear enters your camp, grab your stuff, especially food, and move to the safety of a car or building. Do not run. Food can also be safety stored in bear boxes.”
Last month, a Canadian man survived a brutal grizzly bear attack by stabbing the animal in the neck with a 2-inch pocket knife.
Colin Dowler, 45, was mountain-biking in the remote back country of British Columbia outside of the city of Powell River on July 29 when he was attacked by the grizzly.