This story has been updated with information from Mammals Coordinator Darren DeBloois.
Around 5:45 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 9, a bear attacked a 13-year-old camper near Dewey Bridge, according to an official from the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources. The bear attacked the victim while he was sleeping, injuring his right cheek and right ear.
The victim was transported to Grand Junction for hospital care, and he has since been treated and released.
According to the Division, the victim said that the bear was about his size, meaning it was a smaller bear. The Division and the federal Wildlife Services are now coordinating to track and capture the bear, which will be euthanized if located because it attacked a human.
Mammals Coordinator for the Division Darren DeBloois told The Times-Independent that the boy was camping with a group, and that officers did not find the camp in a dirty state when they arrived.
DeBloois said it was hard to know why exactly the bear attacked the boy and that it seemed like an “unfortunate chance encounter” while it was in the area for a drink. DeBloois speculated that the victim’s shampoo might have interested or upset the bear or that the bear was trying to pull him out of his sleeping bag.
The Bureau of Land Management closed the campsite where the attack occurred, and warning signs are now posted in the area. The Division said it would have someone at the campground to warn anyone who may land a raft at the boat ramp about the incident.
“The bear was last seen heading towards the Colorado River,” the Division said in a press release. “The DWR and WS have located bear tracks and have attempted to capture the bear with dogs. They will also be setting multiple traps in the area.”
The Division wishes to remind the public that it maintains tips on living with bears on its website. DeBloois said that campers should keep their sites clean if they want to avoid encounters with bears.
Black bears, DeBloois said, are generally not interested to interact with humans. If a person ever is attacked by a bear, however, The Division advises to “fight back.”