No charges to will be filed against parents of Grand Junction girl mauled by bear
DNA test confirms bear killed by wildlife officers had attacked young girl
May 15, 2018
GRAND JUNCTION — Mesa County Sheriff's Office deputies have concluded their investigation into the Mother’s Day incident involving a 5-year-old girl who was attacked and mauled by a bear in the backyard of a rural home.
According to a statement issued Tuesday by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, no charges are being sought in the case. The statement also confirmed that the bear killed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials was the bear responsible for the attack.
At 2:39 a.m. Sunday, May 13, deputies responded to the 3400 block of D Road in East Orchard Mesa for a report of a child attacked by a bear. The child was transported to St. Mary's hospital and is expected to recover.
The sheriff’s office stated that deputies learned the family had gone to bed about 1:30 a.m. after waiting up for their father to return home from a trip. About 2:30 a.m., the little girl heard what she believed to be her dog “throwing a fit” and went outside to check on it.
“She sat down by the back door, and a bear came around the front of the house and sniffed her. When she got up to come inside, the bear grabbed her and ‘ripped her from the door.’ Her mother heard her screaming and went outside. When the mother started screaming at the animal, the bear dropped the girl,” according to the sheriff’s office statement.
The girl’s father called 911, and on tapes released Tuesday, he said his daughter had been camping in the backyard, contradicting statements made by the girl’s mother.
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“Initially, the father thought his daughter had been camping outside in their backyard when the attack occurred. He reported that information to dispatchers when he called 911 and to deputies who responded. The father later reported to deputies that information was incorrect. He told deputies once he spoke to his daughter, he learned she was not camping in their backyard like he initially guessed, but rather (was) inside the home when she went to investigate a noise. The girl's mother also reported the child was inside the home when she went to investigate a noise,” according to the sheriff’s office. “… The parents' actions leading up to this incident are not criminal nor negligent.”
Also released Tuesday was a report from Colorado Parks and Wildlife stating that DNA evidence confirmed the bear killed by wildlife officers was the same bear responsible for attacking the young child.
The animal is described as a 2-year-old, male, cinnamon-colored black bear weighing 150 pounds. The necropsy revealed the bear was in good condition with no signs of diseases. Rabies testing was negative.
Wildlife officers killed the bear the evening of the attack in the yard of a residence about a half-mile away from the incident. Officers said the bear came within a few feet of their vehicle, looking into the open window as they monitored a nearby bear trap.
“From the moment we first learned of the attack through confirmation that we killed the right bear, there have been a lot of dedicated people working very hard to protect the public and conduct a thorough, timely investigation,” said CPW Regional Manager JT Romatzke. “We continue to pray for the little girl and her family, and they remain in our thoughts. We are glad to hear she is doing better. It gives us a great sense of accomplishment to let them know we have dealt with the bear that attacked their daughter.”
Romatzke said personnel with the USDA’s Wildlife Services searched the area with hounds early Tuesday, finding no evidence of recent bear activity.
Black bear is the name of the species and does not necessarily describe the animal’s color. They can be cinnamon, or honey-colored, brown, blond or black. The Black bear is the only bear species in Colorado.
Depending on the season, food supply and gender, black bears may weigh between 100 and 450 pounds and can reach 5-feet tall when standing on their hind legs.
Though considered carnivores, a black bear’s natural diet typically consists of berries, acorns and insects. In Colorado and many areas of the country where bears are common, trash, dirty campsites, bird feeders and food purposely provided by humans can condition a bear to seek food sources in residential areas, a leading cause of human/bear conflicts.
For more information about preventing bear conflicts, visit the CPW website.