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ASPEN – An Aspen woman walking down an alley between Galena and Mill Streets early Sunday morning sustained injuries to her abdomen and leg after a bear swiped at her.

Police first encountered the what is believed to be the same animal at 1:30 a.m. Sunday after receiving a call that people were crowding around a large bear in an unsecured dumpster in the same alley.

An officer scared away the bear using his lights and sirens, but lost sight of it when it fled through the courtyard by St. Mary's Church, according to a news release from the Aspen Police Department.

Police say the woman was attacked a half hour later. She has been treated and released from the hospital. She was identified by the Aspen Daily News as off-duty Pitkin County sheriff's deputy Erin Smiddy.

The Aspen Police Department has contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which is trying to find the bear. If it is found and identified, it could be euthanized, according to the news release.

Police have the following advice about what to do during bear season:

  • If walking through town at night, walk in well-lit areas and try to avoid locations like alleys that may have bear attractants (dumpsters, grease traps from restaurants, etc.).
  • If you see a bear, DO NOT approach it, keep moving and give the bear ample space. Although naturally docile, black bears can react unpredictably under stress from humans.
  • If you run into a bear unexpectedly back away slowly, make yourself appear larger by raising your hands and/or a jacket over your head and make loud noises. Black bears are known to false charge, so resist the urge to run as this may trigger a chase response from the bear.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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