A mother in Colorado was forced to scare off a black bear in Colorado after it went after her 5-year-old daughter, according to reports.
The incident took place early Sunday near Grand Junction, located some 250 miles west of Denver.
The mother told state wildlife officials that her young daughter went outside at around 2:30 a.m. local time to investigate noises. She thought it was her dog, the mom said, according to The Associated Press.
Then, the mother, who was not identified, saw her girl being dragged by the black bear. The mother started screaming, and the bear dropped the girl.
“She yelled at the animal, she screamed at it. And by doing so, she probably saved her little girl’s life,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras, AP reported.
Officers are now tracking the animal with the help of federal officials.
Porras told the Aspen Daily News that the attack had similarities to a 2016 incident involving a mountain lion, when a 5-year-old boy was grabbed by the big cat in his yard. In that case, the mother pushed the lion’s paw away and reached inside the animal’s mouth to free the boy. Later, the lion was captured and destroyed by wildlife officials.
Porras said, “It appears the child stumbled and fell on the lion. And the lion responded in that case as well. … Surprising an animal like that can make an animal feel cornered and trapped and lead to serious injuries.”
The bear in the Sunday incident likely wasn’t looking at the girl as prey, he said.
“Bears and lions are looking for four-legged prey, they are not looking for two-legged prey,” he told the Aspen Daily News. But he noted, “All humans are at risk” when they encounter a wild animal suddenly. “If the mother had surprised the bear, it could have led to the mother being attacked as well,” he said.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reported earlier in 2018 that Colorado wildlife officials feared another deadly attack because of a lack of food for black bears.
“We had a real mild winter, but we haven’t had much moisture at all over winter or spring so far,” Officer Cody Wigner told the paper. “So, there’s really nothing for them to eat.”
Low food quantities forces bears to head into neighborhoods and cars to look for garbage to eat.
“You get sightings year-round because they have that year-round food source, which is trash,” Wigner added to the Gazette. “Currently, it’s not looking good.”
Last month, a hungry bear got locked inside a car in Boulder County, Kansas.com reported.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in a statement on its website, told residents to secure their trash, keep pet food inside, and tell officials about any bear sightings in residential areas.
“Black bears are trying to share space with an ever-growing human population,” according to the department’s website. “With many more people living and playing in bear country, human-bear encounters are on the rise.”