- Associated Press - Thursday, July 13, 2017

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) - Three bears were euthanized in the last week in Colorado.

A bear that came within a few feet of two children playing outside near Vallecito Lake was tracked and euthanized Tuesday.

The two boys and their mother were able to make it safely into the house, The Durango Herald reported (https://bit.ly/2u9lTnR ).

Colorado Parks and Wildlife services were able to pursue the bear with tracking dogs and euthanize it.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say another bear was killed Friday when a Durango landowner shot a bear that had killed some chickens.

A third bear was euthanized earlier this week after a teen staffer at a Colorado camp fought off a bear after waking up Sunday to find the animal biting his head and trying to drag him away.

The 19-year-old woke up at around 4 a.m. to a “crunching sound” with his head inside the mouth of the bear, which was trying to pull him out of his sleeping bag as he slept outside at Glacier View Ranch 48 miles (77 kilometers) northwest of Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said.

The staffer was treated briefly at a hospital and released.

The three incidents continue to highlight an active year for human-bear conflicts, as a poor natural-food cycle has pushed the animals to find alternative food sources, mainly from humans, such as trash or bird feeders.

A July 6 article in The Durango Herald reported four bears were killed in one day in separate incidents in Vallecito, Pagosa Springs and Cortez. Homeowners killed two after bears entered their homes, and Wildlife Services euthanized two because they killed livestock.

“This is my fifth summer down here, and this is by far the largest call volume and number of incidents we’ve had,” said Matt Thorpe, wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Bryan Peterson of Bear Smart Durango said this year is the busiest bear season since the natural-food failure year of 2012. He said while rain may help, the late frost in June is likely to take a toll on late summer acorns, an important staple to a bear’s diet.

“It may get worse before it gets better,” he said.

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